top of page

Bajau: The Guardians of The Ocean

Turtle swimming peacefully in the ocean

In today's age of technology and information you are likely to have come across the term climate change. Climate change can easily be defined as changes in temperature and shifts in weather patterns but the climate change we know today are the changes that are caused by humans. One of the biggest things affected today are our waters that are polluted by oil spills and plastic every year. You've probably seen this with the viral videos of seals and turtles walking around with plastic stuck to their bodies.

Meet the Bajau People of the pacific islands

In today's world, where most people live in big industrial cities and where people do not have the slightest clue on how they impact the environment, there is a group of people along the islands of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia who live a completely different lifestyle. The Bajau tribe has adapted to live a semi-aquatic lifestyle for thousands of years and play a key role in protecting our oceans.

What role do the Bajau play in protecting our oceans?

Our oceans play an integral part in everyday life. They provide us with sustenance, employment and most importantly play a huge role in the absorption of carbon dioxide. However, despite all of this, we continue to mistreat our oceans by disposing our plastic waste within them. The Bajau live their life around the ocean, the men in the Bajau tribe wake up as early as four am to hunt around 15kg of fish and return home at noon! They work extremely hard, with the ocean being their main source of their living. The only time they ever even come into the mainland is to buy food or water. These people are so connected to the ocean that some even make pets of creatures most people would be afraid of.

The Bajau consider themselves the guardians of the ocean as apart from hunting underwater for fish they also spend a lot of their time removing plastic waste from the reefs. Due to climate change, severe damage has been caused towards the corals reefs which has again led to the livelihood of the Bajau being negatively affected. Due to these changes one Bajau woman named Ima has stated that "there used to be a lot of fish and now they have decreased."

Another tribe member stated that because of people damaging the coral reefs, the amount of fish has significantly decreased. He proudly said that the Bajau guard the oceans and do not damage the reefs and this is something that has been passed on to them through generations by their forefathers. If the destruction of coral reefs continue, then the Bajau will have no fish left to hunt and may lead to them settling on land.

What can we learn from the Bajau People?

First thing we can learn from the Bajau is how to be appreciative. In the modern world, where literally anything we need is either within the touch of a button or within walking distance, we are so spoiled for choice when it comes to anything and everything. When it comes to food, nowadays, people don't have to worry about where or how they need to get it because it's at the supermarket, some restaurant or could be acquired from an app.

Now compare this to the lifestyle of the Bajau who have only one food source and choice. Unlike us, they have to physically hunt for and expend energy that even the most skilled divers in the world don't have. Not to mention that climate change is slowly eliminating their way of living. From this we can learn to appreciate our surroundings and see that we actually have luxuries and are lucky to have the ability to be spoiled for choice.

Another thing we can learn from these extraordinary people is their family spirit and togetherness. The Bajau are so united as families that the only things they're interested in apart from the ocean, is their love for their families. They are extremely family oriented and filled with positivity, so much so that divers have described how they interact with their surroundings as a slow dance.

We can learn from these people on how to be connected to the water, caring for corals and how to responsibly dispose off waste to avoid damaging our beautiful ecosystems. If people need more motivation, imagine taking care of the environment as the state of your room. If your room is clean and kept to a good standard, you will feel more positive and therefore be more motivated to go out and do more activities. Seeing our oceans filled with trash and plastic waste certainly does not feel good. Especially, when you compare it to a fully clean and blue ocean which gives a certain feeling of serenity and calm.

bottom of page