The Mergui Archipelago lies in south Myanmar (Burma). Myanmar occupies 676, 578 square kilometres, and there are 48,137,741 people living there. It lies bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh and Thailand. However, the country is bordered also by India on the northwest, Laos on the east and China on the northeast.
The following lines are about the sea gypsies and their environment, the (Myeik Kyunzu), in Myanmar (Burma). Enjoy reading; and please drop us more lines about this area, or comment on the article. Thank you.
For long time since the Mergui Archipelago has been known, the Sea Gypsies are the sole inhabitants there. They use the same traditional sea fishing and diving methods.
The area in Myanmar (Burma) is rich of coral, jade, teak and ruby, in addition to sea fisheries. There are more than 200 inhabited islands and more than 900 uninhabited islands, in the Andaman Sea in southeastern Myanmar.
Diving is more popular as the whole life of the people there depends on it. The blue waters and white coral reefs on the western coasts of Myanmar and Thailand are home to the Salon, also known as Moken or "sea gypsies". They are some of the world's last surviving hunters and gatherers.
The Moken dive for fish, turtles, shellfish and sea cucumber in the waters around the coral reefs, and spend most of their lives on their boats. However, they get to the land in the rainy season.
They sail from island to island to catch their food, and they sleep, eat, cook their catch and give birth to their children on the boards of their boats. The deep water is their natural element, where children play and dive from an early age.
The area where Moken live is home to the rare loggerhead turtles, butterfly fish and puffers. The Moken know the sea better than anyone in the area does, so they survived during the late tsunami water waves, or harbour waves as it is called in Japanese. Some tales say, they lived in Malay Peninsula centuries before they moved to the Mergui Archipelago.
But "sea gypsies" existence is endangered by changes in ocean circulation and rising sea temperatures, posing a serious threat to the entire coral reefs and their ecosystems.
Within the next 30 years, it is projected that 30% of Asia's coral reefs will die because of rising sea temperatures. At the same time, ongoing settlement and deforestation on the islands in the archipelago is causing the erosion and destruction of the coral reefs.
If the reefs disappear, it will threaten the livelihood and culture of the 4,000 Moken people and force them to change their way of life.
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