2010 AG Awards Spirit of Adventure: Alex Vail, Tane Sinclair-Taylor and Joshua Stewart
ALEX VAIL, JOSHUA STEWART and Tane Sinclair-Taylor met at the Lizard Island Research Station in September 2008. All three have studied marine biology, and they hatched the plan for the January 2010 expedition after learning about the Togean Islands on the internet.
The three adventurers set out to paddle traditional islander sea kayaks 200 km around the 60 remote Togean Islands in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, surviving off what they could catch or harvest. They carried only equipment to record their adventure and emergency supplies.
The Togean Islands lie within a region that boasts the highest coral and tropical reef-fish diversity on the planet, with 75 per cent of the world’s reef-building coral species and more than 1,200 types of fish. The local Bajo people, or sea gypsies, use long sea-canoes to travel, and dive using goggles they make from bamboo and glass.
“There’re two conflicting interests in the Togean Islands,” Alex says. “There are these people living there, the sea gypsies living very sustainably within the environment, but then as well there’s quite a large dynamite and cyanide fish industry, and a lot of unsustainable fishing for the aquarium trade.”
The adventurers hope to draw attention to the beauty of the Togean Islands, how to protect the culture and the plight of the people whose lives depend on the reefs.
On their journey the three discovered that they were probably the first people ever to have undertaken this journey in traditional crafts. The journey took them to places that only a few people had ever set eyes on.
“There are a lot of people and they aren’t acknowledged at all,” Alex says. “We’d like to say a big thankyou to all those people who do those things and aren’t recognised for it.”
Says Josh: “We need to rethink the way that we treat the ocean, respect the oceans. and treat tho oceans. It doesn’t need to happen in ten years, or next year, it needs to happen now.”
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