Living Life As A Sea Nomad

Eco Adventure

For centuries a small population of sea nomads formed known as the Bajau people that have exclusively lived on the water. Other similar “sea nomad” groups have existed in history, but the Bajau people are considered one of the last seafaring populations.

The Bajau people reside in Southeast Asia on the waters southwest of the Philippines, consisting of migratory people that drift from place to place remaining unattached to any of the neighboring countries in any official sense. There is little written history or official state record of the Bajau people; they are rooted in their own unique traditions and folklore of oral history passed down to future generations.

The Bajau people live on lepas (long houseboats) or in a small dwelling constructed on stilts on the waters off the coasts of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. This community is exposed to water at an early age and members develop into expert free divers to depths more than 230 feet with the ability to stay submerged 60 feet underwater for several minutes.

Scientists have discovered through research that the Bajau people have evolved through their sea nomad lifestyle, with spleens 50 percent larger than average humans from neighboring areas. While diving, the spleen contracts and a reservoir of oxygenated red blood cells are released into the bloodstream, meaning people with larger spleens have a greater ability staying underwater.