8TV Film Crew Visit

This week TRACC hosted a film crew from 8TV, here to make a series of documentaries. The three episodes will focus on the bajau people who live on and around the nearby island of Kulapuan, spear fishing at Kulapuan, and TRACCs involvement with marine conservation. I was lucky enough to be able to join in with the different aspects of filming at Pom Pom, on Kulapuan, and in Semporna. The trip to Kulapuan was a huge highlight for me and is something that will stick with me for a long time to come.

We arrived in Kulapuan in the late morning and were greeted by the chief of the village, Chief Ibnu. He was our guide for the day and was a delight to meet. We began by checking out the resort that is In the process of being set up. The resort is being lead by one of the bajau people who returned to the island with the idea to give back to his community. The hotel will be staffed and built by local bajau and will have the potential to bring in much needed incomes to the people.

We were then taken to the burial ground in the centre of the island. This is a tomb where one of the first settlers of Kulapuan is buried. The bajau settled on the island and feel safe living there because they believe that this ancestor will protect them. The bajau are stateless people and are in a vulnerable position with no recognised country to belong to. They are usually seabourne people, so the Kulapuan settlement is unique.

We were then taken to the centre of the island to view the well that has served the whole island (without drying up) for the past 50 years. The water is clean to drink and locals (both land and seabourne) come by too fill up canisters and bathe.

We then went back to the village and we taken to Ibnu's house for an interview with a local spearfisher. His family were incredibly hospitable and showed me around their home. After this we headed out on the boat to get some footage of the spear fisherman. Jo and I were there to keep an eye on the crew while they were diving. The spearfisher was incredibly strong in the water and it was a
spectacle watching him dive amongst the coral.

Kulapuan was incredibly welcoming to both TRACC and the film crew. It was so valuable to be able to learn about the bajau way of life and to be able to share their stories to promote the need to be recognised in Malaysia.

The following day the crew filmed us conducting a reef survey, dropping a net to preserve our reef, and working with our shark holding cage. They were a lot of fun to have around and we are really looking forward to seeing the finished documentaries! Thank you 8TV!