Thousand Islands

A cloud of exhaust fumes and the stench of dead fish hangs like a heavy, dirty rug. A cacophony of vehicles, shouting sellers, clanking sack barrows, crying babies and boat horns announce your arrival to the Muara Angkor fish market where the boat departs for Thousand Islands. Countless species of marine life are lined up along the crowded chaotic harbour streets. Dodging hagglers and fish remnants we finally get close to the boats. After fretting about which one we have a ticket for, it seems choosing one crowded with passengers and hoping for the best is the only option.

Thousand Islands, or Kepulauan Seribu as it is known in Indonesia is a string of 128 islands and sandbars stretching 45 kilometres out in the Java Sea from Jakarta's mainland. Not knowing what to expect after the raucous start to the journey we luckily share the same boat with Yohanes Bodoyo.

Yohanes works for Kepulauan Seribu Marine National Park, protecting 78 of 128 islands in the archipelago. On the boat journey out to the archipelago's administrative centre, Pramukha island, he offers to show us his work environment. "Over the past two decades almost half of the reefs around Thousand islands have disappeared, contributing to a sharp decline in marine life and wide-scale erosion of the islands coastlines," he tells us. The land elevation ranges one metre and the whole archipelago is under severe threat, as the sea level begins to creep higher. Since 1870, sea levels have risen over 17 centimetres and the rate during the last 20 years is almost double of the century before. These islands be a warning alarm to nearby megalopolis Jakarta as the sea level overcomes them. The city which also lies mostly at sea level is sinking due to groundwater extraction and is home to almost ten million people.

Huge amounts of waste from the capital and years of unsustainable fishing with dynamite have put enormous stress on the marine ecosystems in this area. "We have several reef rehabilitating projects where we graft soft and hard coral onto existing or man-made reefs to restore the important ecosystems," says Yohanes Bodoyo.

Three school girls wait their turn to perform in a competition on Pramukha island. Young people from schools all over the archipelago come to participate in a day with dancing, costume, singing and drawing contests.

Traditional dressMangrove protectionWatching togetherDrawing competitionThree generationsLow tideAfter darkNight fishingHome in the seaSea eagleBiawakIsland fishingSamiah, Thousand islands, IndonesiaRima, Thousand Islands, IndonesiaInu, Thousand Islands, IndonesiaSymbiotic life ThreatenedSoft coralShore line protectionHard coralForest of the seaCoral rehabilitationDisappearingThe way to school