SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel December 2015 Issue 7 - Page 56

Book excerpt from Ocean Country: One Woman’s Voyage from Peril to Hope in her Quest to Save the Seas by Liz Cunningham, with a foreword by Carl Safina.

Ocean Country is an adventure story, a call to action, and a poetic meditation on the state of the seas, but most of all it is a story of finding true hope in the midst of one of the greatest crises to face humankind—the rapidly degrading state of our environment. After a near-drowning accident in which she was temporarily paralyzed, Liz Cunningham crisscrosses the globe in an effort to understand the threats to our dazzling but endangered seas. This intimate account charts her thrilling journey through unexpected encounters with conservationists, fishermen, sea nomads, and scientists in the Mediterranean, Sulawesi, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Papua New Guinea.

In this excerpt Cunningham describes a visit to a sea nomad village in the Tukangbesi Islands in Southeast Sulawesi with her translator, Rikardo Saliki. She went there to learn more about local fishing practices and the Bajau sea nomads, who had lived for thousands of years in small wooden houseboats. Until the twentieth century, the Bajau’s hunter-gatherer way of life differed little from that of the Austronesians some ten thousand years before. The Bajau were now transitioning to living in houses on stilts along the shore, but some still lived at sea. During monsoons, the nomads sheltered their houseboats in mangrove channels or erected portable stilt huts in protected coves. This excerpt describes a visit to one of the smaller, more remote Bajau “water villages.”

Ocean Country