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Ibu Ani and the Coral Triangle

Posted: 05/24/11 06:35 PM ET

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I met Ibu Ani back in February. Ani is one of the Bajau Laut, an ethnic group who have traditionally roamed the waters of the coral triangle living solely off what the ocean provides. Ani lives on her boat with her son Ramdan. She was married before, she tells me, but her husband, like so many other Bajau men of her generation, was killed by decompression sickness after diving on compressor.

Ani herself is fairly immobile, the toll of long years living at sea, so she relies on Ramdan to provide all her food. Much of Ani's life is spent singing to herself at the back of her boat whilst Ramdan forages for sea cucumbers and hunts with his hand-made speargun. She tells me she dreams one day she'll get an engine so she can go back to Torosiaje (a nearby Bajau settlement) -- at the moment it's a four day row.
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