Mergui, the Lost Archipelago

A vibrant Gorgonian sea fan and soft corals with a school of reef fishes under the sea of Mergui Archipelago, Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

Piles of a diverse species of fishes caught in the sea of Mergui Archipelago by Thai commercial fishing fleet are on displayed for auction in a fish market in Ranong, Thailand.

A talisman necklace made from a gilded seahorse with ruby, which is worn by a Moken sea gypsy for good luck.

A dead leaf floats on the surface of water near an uninhabited island. Mergui Archipelago consists of over 800 islands, which most of them are still untouched.

A group of Moken fishermen builds a wooden fishing boat in a fishing village on an island in the Mergui Archipelago. Even modern technology has been brought into the their communities; the Moken still continue their traditional lifestyle, relying on fishing as a profession.

A portrait of General Aung San, a national hero of Myanmar in a school in a Moken fishing village in the Mergui Archipelago.

A coral reef in the Mergui Archipelago. Despite the relative high amount of suspended particles in the water from the rivers on the mainland, the reefs are in good condition, with a large abundance of marine life.

Crews on Thai commercial trawlers load their catch into a storage room during the night in the sea of Mergui Archipelago. Despite the efforts by the Government of Myanmar to moderate fishing in this water, IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) fishing still widely persists in the region, similar to most places in the South East Asia.

A Parrotfish Scarus sp. hides in a crevice during the night. Parrotfishes are important herbivores in the reefs, since they eat macroalgae, the competitor of corals.

A large pile of reef fishes being unloaded by Burmese fishermen prior being transported to the market on the mainland of Myanmar. With the rapid development of the countries after being opened to the outside world, resources are also increasingly harvested to fulfill the growth in demand.

Marine biologists collect data and samples in a shallow reef for biodiversity assessment survey of the Mergui Archipelago. After nearly 50 years of military ruling, which restrict access, scientists are just beginning to gain knowledge of the unexplored sea.

Sunset view from uninhabited island in the Mergui Archipelago. Even most islands have been relatively untouched, there are growing interests in developing the archipelago for tourism industry with the opening of Myanmar to the outside world.

Long-closed off from entry by the military government of Myanmar, scientists finally get some glimpse into the restricted territory on the biodiversity, and livelihood of the people in the Mergui Archipelago.
© 2019 Sirachai (Shin) Arunrugstichai
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