MAR 02, 2017 09:59 AM PST

Who lives in the Coral Triangle?


The Coral Triangle is an area that encompasses 1.6 billion acres from Indonesia to the Philippines, Malaysia, East Timur, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. It contains the most biodiverse marine ecosystems in the world, with the most reef species anywhere else in the oceans. But it also supports 120 million people, who live on the fisheries resources from these reefs.

The Bajau Laut are one of the last nomadic marine communities in the world, and they inhabit the Coral Triangle. These people spend their lives at sea, literally living on small boats for more than half of every year in search of fish to feed themselves and their families, and occasionally to sell for money. But their lifestyle is facing threats not only from the modernizing world and changing of cultures; environmental degradation is severely limiting the fish they can find in the seas. Food is getting harder and harder to scavenge, because there is less of it.

Because of these difficulties, some Bajau have turned to using cyanide and dynamite to flush the fish out of reefs, making them easier to catch. This strategy is dangerous for fisherpeople and ends up damaging reef structures where other species live. Which ultimately means that these people have to go farther and spend more resources to get to regions where the fish have not been eradicated.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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