Large barracudas, Andrew Gill and Governorís Ronald Garvey's Daughters on English Caye pier, about 1950. Also Maya women with a big barracuda
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February 6, 2023

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Belize National Historical Society
A group for Belizeans who would like to post, discuss and preserve our unique history. We hope our group with the help of our members will eventually develop into an official NGO known as the Belize National Historical Society. For the time being, we want to create an online bank through crowd sourcing of anything of historical content about Belize including historic photos, buildings, bios of patriotic Belizeans to name a few.
Large barracudas, Andrew Gill and Governorís Ronald Garvey's Daughters on English Caye pier, about 1950. Also Maya women with a big barracuda

The girls were the daughters of Governor Ronald Garvey who was in office 28 February 1949 Ė 1952.

Albert Paul Avila: Nice sized barracudas. I have eaten lots of barracudas, more so when I was young than now, howver, I understand if you donít prepare a barracuda of this size well before you cook and eat it, it could make you sick, or even cause death. It seems that the large ones have a high concentration of a ciguatera toxin. Ciguatera toxin tends to accumulate in predator fish, such as the Barracuda and other carnivorous reef fish because they eat other fish that consume toxin-producing algae (dinoflagellates) that live in coral reef waters. Ciguatera toxin is harmless to fish but poisonous to humans. I read that you should cook it with a silver fork or something to that effect and it helps to prevent illness.

Dave Newton: The rule is not to eat anything longer than your arm, this way the neurotoxins do have not to accumulate to dangerous levels. I also met an Cuban fisherman who said cut a piece of the meat and place it near an ant nest ..if the ants don't eat it don't eat it ..Lastly a friend from Florida said " when you catch a large fish ,you always do the the neighbourly thing and give them half. They will eat the fish and if they answer the door the next day,,,YOU eat your half"

Eugene Trench: Barracudas I love fried dry or in Boil Up. With Barracudas its not wise to eat them in July- September because somehow they eat the lead off the metal boats which cause food poisoning.

Nick Pollard: Great fish to eat! I fry it 50% then set it in a strainer then I do a saute of tomatoes onions culantro in cononut oil add some tom sauce and drop the cuda in it ...use the pot spoon to cover it with the sauce cover it for 5 mins then turn off the fire n let it set.

Maria Pollard: I once did an essay about barracudas in elementary school, my dad actually helped me with it. I learned that thereís a time of the year, warm weather months, May, June, July and August barracudas should not be eaten because they eat some type of algae off the bottom of ships which can make humans very sick, does not affect the fish itself!

Dave Newton: The neurotoxin is an accumulative poison ,which means it builds up over many years ..each year getting more stronger ... it has nothing to do with the month of the year ..these are old fisherfolk tales based on myth NOT science

Jacki Tipton: I never eat barracuda anymore since my good friend in Placencia became seriously ill n had to be rushed to hospital few yrs back, he almost died.

Christian Bech: Local fishermen say that if the fish is dropping scales upon landed in the boat, then it is not good to eat. All barracudas I've caught have been good eating and none dropped scales. So I can't verify it myself.

Karen McCracken: Love Love Love Barra....tasty fish. Always used a Silver Teaspoon.....if it turned greenish...out went fish. We all survived.

Peter Wolffsohn: According to my grandmother if the silver changed colour it was a sign not to eat the fish. The toxin effected the metal.

Ceasar Young: Ate a lot of barracudas and they were delicious. Never got sick from eating fish.

Toni Jackson-Swahn: My Dad (Ralph Jackson-Capt) a fisherman lived his life on sea... In Belize if you catch a Barro inside the reef it is considered safe... if it is caught outside the reef it is considered toxic... outside the reef in the Gulf Stream they hunt and eat toxic... it was our daily food... a boil up with barro for brekky...

Alma Erskine: I was poisoned by barracuda in 1994. That was 27years ago but I remember it as if it was yesterday. I almost died. My heart beat, blood pressure, pulse all went way below normal and when I regained consciousness, I was told that I had a foot in the grave. I will always say thanks to Drs Lizarraga and Cawich who saved my life. The poison absorbs the electrolytes in your body and leaves it dehydrated. I don't wish this on anyone. It was a Rotary family day in Caye Caulker and the food was prepared for us. Many of us were poisoned, I think about 20 in total. I was the worst. Lost about 6 lbs in one weak and remained week for a month, unable to even dry my skin after a shower without feeling tired. There was no funny taste. Tasted perfect. Pedialyte was my saviour. Stay hydrated and Buscopan for stomach cramps.

Clarine Johnson: Alma k will add to your story. I donít know if you remember when Mama was telling us about her and Mrs Iris Taylorís barracuda poisoning. It almost killed her. She told of the effects it had on their bodies including this, a little indelicate symptom. They were left with uncontrollable itching on their person and also on their very private nether areas. They tried every bush salve or what have you for a few days. No barracuda for me then and now.

Joseito Sosa: Albert I stand to be corrected Barracuda is a delicious plate but there is a special season that the moment I cannot remember so probable one of the fisherman can make a contribution to it. They eat the metal from the shipís and this is why they become poisonous . When I was living down in the Banana Industry in Big Creek a couple of us use to go out on Saturday to fish for them. We found a nice location not too far from Placencia where we caught so much different size as if we were picking up firewood. And our bait was only a piece of white cloth on our hook. All they needed to see was something flashing by and they would grab at it. Was so much fun. The huge ones were out at the laughing Bird Caye yes at least 4 feet in size.

Debbie Curling: My Aunt Doris Eiley/Leslie in Placencia got poisoned once by barracuda. My mother told us about it; she said after that if you cook it in a stew use a silver spoon to stir it. If the spoon turns black it ainít good.

According to this information, no amount or method of cooking can rid the fish of the toxin.

Top photograph courtesy Andrew Gill

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