A group of Southeast Asians known as the Moken live near, and off of, the sea.
DESTINATION: MYANMAR, Forbidden Island
In the waters of the Andaman Sea…
Off the coast of Myanmar…
A group of sea nomads has made their life among these remote islands for centuries.
Known as the Moken (Mōken), their origins are mysterious.
The Moken’s extraordinary ability to reap the bounty of the sea has allowed them to live a life apart.
As hunter gatherers of the sea they catch fish, gather sea urchins at low tide, and dive deep for shellfish at high tide.
The Moken are born on the sea, learning to swim before they can walk.
Their aquatic skills are enhanced by their ability to see underwater twice as clearly as the rest of us.
It helps them find and collect tiny shellfish on the sea floor.
Tonight one of the young Moken women is diving for “pencil” sea urchins, which venture out after dark.
Diving at night, she has to be careful of sharp coral and spiny sea urchins.
Moken have been known to dive as deep as 75 feet without masks or scuba gear…
Staying underwater for extended periods.
A good haul means the pencil urchins can be sold at market for cash.
Although the Moken are very good at living off the ocean, there are still a few necessities the waters can’t provide.
They must occasionally buy rice, cooking oil and diesel fuel to run their boats.
Reaching civilization, they do business with the one local merchant the Moken trust.
He’s married to a Moken woman and understands their world intimately.
Village life has attracted many Moken to leave the sea, while others fear they will be forced to settle by the country’s brutal regime.
But this group doesn’t find civilization enticing.
Supplies in hand, they are happy to return to the sea.
While many Moken have left the seas, tradition remains strong with this clan, as they continue to carve out a living from this remote Eden.