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Sea Gypsies Of Bajau Laut

Environment

Sea Gypsies Of Bajau Laut

The Bajau Laut people are perhaps the most unique community of South East Asia. Living their entire lives on the sea, this group of ‘sea nomads’ floating around the South-Western Indonesian and Filipino waters have inhabited amazing villages built on stilts in the middle of the ocean for centuries.

Due to the increasing threat to marine life in the ocean, many of the Bajau people have had to retire their adventurous ways and settle permanently on land. Although numbers are diminishing, many still call the ocean home and live on boats known as lepa lepa. These guys are expert in free diving, known for going into improbable depths underwater in search of dinner with handmade goggles and spear guns.

These beautiful pictures taken by James Morgan documents their fascinating lives, portraying their intimate understanding of the ocean waters and their unity with nature.

Life at Sea
James Morgan
Bajau catch stingrays with nets and spears, using the tail section to make a yellow sting ray curry in Torosiaje, Indonesia

James Morgan

 In addition to the nets and lines traditionally used for fishing, the Bajau use a handmade ‘pana’ for spearing their catch.
James Morgan
 Amja Kasim Derise cooking dinner at home on his traditional lepa lepa boat. The back of the boat is used for cooking, the middle for sleeping and the front for fishing. Sulawesi, Indonesia.
James Morgan
Life is simple and beautiful for the Bajau children
James Morgan
Home made goggles made from bits and pieces of drift wood or shipwreck
James Morgan
And of course.. the home-made sunscreen too
James Morgan
Compressor diving, often in conjunction with cyanide fishing, remains a common practice amongst the Bajau Laut despite being unsustainable, illegal and highly dangerous.
James Morgan
Catch of the Day

James Morgan

The Bajau still build their mosques over the ocean and practice a syncretic belief system that allows for a deep reverence for the ocean and the spirits that are said to inhabit it. Torosiaje, Indonesia.
James Morgan
Night time prayers at a mosque on stilts over the ocean.

James Morgan

Pak Usrin demonstrates how to make a fertiliser bomb. However, he assured that he stopped bombing reefs back in 2005. Today he gets paid through Reef Check Indonesia to protect his local coral environment.
James Morgan
Ibu Hanisa lost her hands and the sight in one eye when a homemade fertiliser bomb went off in her house.

James Morgan

Pak Lapoli demonstrates using cyanide to catch grouper for the live reef fish trade.
James Morgan
Hand Fishing
James Morgan
Open waters of Bajau community. Borneo, Indonesia
Rehahn Photography

Rehahn Photography

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