Thoughts from our Co-Founder Lynn Lawrance, whilst diving on an ‘off the beaten track’ outer reef… (see video at end)
“Remember this”…I tell myself…”Remember this endless flow of fish”… “carve the coral, the fish, the sharks and giant rays into your minds eye, and never, EVER forget”… “Hold these memories close for when you are an old woman and the ocean is no longer the same”…”Share your memories with anyone who will listen and believe you… because one day, this reef may be nothing more than than a memory, a dusty sepia photo… a faded echo reminiscent of another time”.
These are the kinds of thoughts and feelings that overwhelm me when I dive on reefs that are unmarked on the tourist maps, out of reach for the masses and beyond the edges of where ‘where you normally go’. The reefs we’ve scoured the maps for… zooming in and out and wondering what’s there, daydreamed about, pieced together against depth charts, local knowledge and overlayed academic knowledge. The reefs that take you back to another time… to a time before it all began to change, to a time that may never be ever again.
I know I am privileged with the diving I’ve been able to do.. I acknowledge I am spoilt. Yet after the thousands dives I’ve done in Raja Ampat over almost 10yrs; there has only ever been a handful that have truly moved me like this. And each time my heart burst, broke, overflowed and shattered with a bittersweet and overwhelming combination of joy and despair. This video cannot capture it… even the world’s most tech-spec’ed camera cannot possibly replicate what nature does when left alone to be at its most spectacular… and I am so grateful to have the rare chance to witness it.
Dives like this make me wonder… when I’m an old lady, what will I be able to tell the children of the future? Will I tell them about ‘the time before’ and do the very best I can to describe in intricate detail the colour, the movement, the LIFE that exploded from every inch of these coral reefs? Will they look at me confused as their imaginations try to grasp what it is the old lady in front of them is describing, after only ever having seen skeletal remains of the reefs that once were. Will they look sideways at each other or roll their eyes as they write me off as a crazy elder exaggerating stories from her younger days, about as believable as walking with dinosaurs?
Or…will they say… “Yes…we understand…YES!! We know how you feel because it is STILL exactly as you describe… and we love it now as much as you did then”.
I hope, I pray, I beg for the second scenario, because the first is too much for me to bear.
That is why I do what I do. It is we do what we do.
We are The SEA People. We are Orang Laut.
Lynn Lawrance, Co-Founder
The SEA People and Yayasan Orang Laut Papua