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Margaux Maes

Margaux Maes was born in Belgium, on December 8th 1997. She was diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome at age eight, and began homeschooling with her mother a year later. At age eleven she, her brother and her parents moved to Grand Cayman, where they eventually began diving. She wrote a preteen fantasy book when she was thirteen, and self-published it at fourteen. The year after her photographs placed first and second in the Cayman National Cultural Foundation Youth Competition. She now travels all around the world to see wildlife with her family.

I’m Margaux, a sixteen-year-old writer, and I love animals, the ocean, the different and more alien environments and all things related. Even the mere possibility of going to visit the Arctic on a boat with scientists and other curious and open-minded people is incredibly exciting to me.

  Being surrounded by such still-wild nature both calms and inspires me — I have both ADHD and Asperger’s, and usually experience a non-stop train of jumbled thoughts that come to a rest away from all the distractions of everyday life. Leaving home and all that is familiar — even though I have travelled so much — is still a scary prospect, but it is worth it every time; so young and yet having the ability to see and do so much is amazing. I have made some great friends along the way, met many like-minded people, and look forward to meeting the scientists on board — possibly, as I can’t help but hope, discussing their subjects with them more as adults than as a child and learning many new things.

 Of all things animal-related I enjoy studying behaviour the most; to see how they interact, how they live, and theorize how they might think. When I see wild animals, I love to put to test the articles I have read and documentaries I have watched and see first-hand how they behave — possibly even take a single action of theirs and use it as inspiration for a new plot.

I think it is important that we help preserve all these beautiful places and creatures, for we are the ones that put them in such danger in the first place. Little things, like asking if anyone else needs to go before flushing the toilet, or filling up your dishwasher completely before starting a cleansing cycle; little things like these are a great place for people to start. It may not seem like much if only one person does it, but if those who have reach promote actions like these — photographers, filmmakers, famous scientists — they could make a significant difference.

Up until very recently, I was scared of endless nothingness, limitless depths — and to be honest, I still am. But going to places like Dominica, Hawaii, and Isla Mujeres, I have learned that once you are there, once you jump into the water with such magnificent animals, you stop thinking about such fears entirely — you might not even notice them at all. To conquer fear like that gives an amazing sense of freedom that I am so glad to be able to experience at such a young age.
  What I will take away from the Arctic, I don’t know. I can’t come near imagining the feeling one must have visiting it, or the mark it must leave in a person’s heart. All I know is that this is one once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would hate to miss.