Mabul island: children of the ocean

September 1, 2013 § 7 Comments

I wrote a little bit about Bajau people (sea gipsies) in a previous post. They are an indigenousethnic group of Maritime Southeast Asia, leading a seaborne lifestyle. Studies on some  children from Thailand and Burma, living in similar communities, show that they have unusually good underwater-vision because their eyes have adapted to the liquid environment.

Children of Bajau spend a lot of time in the water since they are born. They play here, swim and dive, like there was almost no difference between land and water for them. During the low tide, they take some plastic bowls and strainers and go into the water to look for food. “Seapood seapood!” – they scream showing me a strange creature they just caught in the water (they pronounce “p” instead of “f”).

They point to my feet and show their flip flops, warning me, that it’s dangerous to walk around in the water without them. They carefully bypass spiky creatures – sea hedgehogs – telling me to be cautious about them too.  But then the local woman comes around and rolls one of those  hedgehogs into the basket using a metal rod. After shaking it until the spikes brake, she open it with the knife and offers me to taste the yellow jelly stuff from inside. Local people mix it with rice and eat it just like that – raw, straight from the ocean. It tastes better than it looks. I thank woman for a snack and continue wading around with kids.

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