Meet Bajau Tribes, the Nomad of the Sea

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Bajau, the Nomads of the Sea

Nomads of the seas, the Bajau people, have been roaming the waters of Southeast Asia for centuries. Over time, they have adapted to the ever changing maritime environment, of which they depend on sustenance and livelihood.

Originating from the Philippines, the Bajau have since migrated to the shores of Indonesia and Malaysia in a quest to find abundant life sustaining waters. While the majority of the Bajau remain at sea, living on small boats for months at a time, some have migrated to land while maintaining their sea-faring traditions. One such village is Sampela, where visitors will have a glimpse into their daily lives.

Sampela rises from the waters of Wakatobi, bridging the Bajau traditions to a slightly more modern world. Their boat dwellings have been replaced with wooden homes built on stilts allowing them access to the water. The village is where children attend school, while the elders take care of the village or head out to sea to find their daily catch. With knowledge passed down from their forefathers, the Bajau fishermen have honed their freediving skills. Equipped with only a mask and speargun, these master divers can dive to 60 meters and hold their breath for extended periods.

After centuries of diving, researchers have discovered the modern-day Bajua fisherman have adapted to their environment and evolved an enlarged spleen. The larger spleen gives their bodies the ability to hold additional oxygenated red blood cells, allowing them to stay underwater at length. The sea-faring life is deeply embedded in the Bajau people, and one could say the sea is a natural extension of their lives. The waters they inhabit are more than a resource to the Bajau; it is where they find comfort and solace while peacefully coexisting with nature.

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