These Kids Literally Swim With Sharks. But What's Really Scary Is How Their Parents Make A Living.

When we think of tropical paradise, we don't often picture the people living there. But here you’ll be introduced to some amazing ocean nomads — generations of people happiest at sea. But all is not well in paradise!

At 5:44, we learn why local indigenous people and the fish they live on are in trouble. And at 10:24, we hear why these same people are key to an ultimate solution. This story is among many good reasons for us all to find out about where our food comes from!

Show Transcript Hide Transcript

James: The Coral Triangle is the most bio diverse marine ecosystem in the world. It stretches for almost 1.6 billion acres, encompassing the oceans of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Phillipines, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. As well as having by far the world's largest number of coral and reef fish species, the Coral Triangle is also home to over 120 million human beings, many of whom depend directly on it's natural resources.


[Foreign dialect]

No one knows exactly how many Bajau are still living at sea but the numbers are certainly dwindling. In fact, this is probably the last generation in which you will find any individuals spending their entire lives at sea.


There are a number of reasons why this is happening. The governments of the Coral Triangle region have been implementing a forced settlement policy, whereby many Bajau are now legally required to move into settled steady [SP] communities, such as this one in Torasai Ejai [SP] but many Bajau are also moving ashore out of economic necessity. As environmental degradation in the region continues, it's increasingly difficult for the Bajau to sustain themselves at sea.


[Foreign dialect]



I initially came out to Indonesia in order to explore the potential of incorporating some of the Bajau's indigenous knowledge of the ocean into marine conversation strategies, but the reality is that the Bajau, as much as everybody, are now responsible for a lot of destructive fishing that's taking place in the Coral Triangle region. Many Bajau are making homemade explosives in order to bomb reefs and increase their catches, as well as the use of cyanide for the live fish trade.

Fish are caught off the coast of Sulawesi. They then ship them out to Bali where they're held in storage factories before being sent out to Hong Kong, where there's a market estimated at over $1 billion US.


Personally, I feel as though, in order to enact a really sustainable and meaningful conservation for the Coral Triangle region, we need to empower groups such as the Bajau to look after and curate their own environments.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

This video is one of many great pieces by James Morgan. Learn more about his work on Facebook. And you can learn more about efforts to protect the culture and wildlife of this incredible area at The Coral Triangle.

May 30, 2014

Flash Video Embed

This video is not supported by your device. Continue browsing to find other stuff you'll love!

In case you were wondering what matters to us, it's your privacy. Read our updated privacy policy.

Hey, Internet Friend. Looks like you're using a crazy old web browser, which is no longer supported. Please consider upgrading to something more modern—for a better experience, and a safer time online. We only want the best for you.

Download Google Chrome, and try it for a week. Don't think about it, just do it. You'll thank us later.