Oman to the Maldives Indian Ocean with Simon Reeve


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Oman to the Maldives

This stage of Simon Reeve's journey takes him from Oman to the Maldives, via Mumbai. He starts in the remote Musandam peninsula on the Strait of Hormuz.


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The Indian Ocean.

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Home to the world's most exotic islands.

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And beautiful and rare wildlife.

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I'm travelling through 16 countries around the edge of this vast ocean

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that stretches 6,000 miles from Africa to Australia.

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'Steeped in history, the Indian Ocean is vital to world trade.

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It's a journey of extremes.

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'From stunning islands...

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'..across pirate-infested seas...

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'..to remote villages..

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'..and war-torn lands.'

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What was that?

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RAPID GUNSHOTS

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CHILDREN LAUGH

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This is a journey about much more than what's under the waves.

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It's about the lives of the millions of people...

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..who live around this, one of our greatest oceans.

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On this leg of my journey,

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I'm travelling from the edge of Arabia to India,

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and on to the tropical islands of the Maldives.

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'On the way I experience the chaos

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'of one of the great Indian Ocean festivals.'

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Feels like the whole of Mumbai is out on the beach.

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Among beautiful coral reefs I discover

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what threatens the delicate balance of the underwater world.

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It's all dead, like a forest that's been logged.

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And on the high seas I go fishing the old-fashioned way.

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Yaaay!

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FISHERMAN: Nice catch! >

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-I caught it!

-Yes!

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In the Indian Ocean, sustainably.

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I'm starting this part of my journey in a remote region of Oman.

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I'm next to the Strait of Hormuz,

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one of the most important entry points into the Indian Ocean.

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Giant super-tankers come through here

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carrying vast quantities of the world's oil,

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which makes this stretch of water one of the most vital on the planet.

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Middle Eastern oil literally fuels the industrialised world.

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40% of all seaborne oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz

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and into the Indian Ocean.

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The oil tankers pass the Musandam Peninsula,

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a strategically vital region of Oman.

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Oman was once a great power in the Indian Ocean.

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For centuries Omanis traded with India, Africa,

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and even the Far East.

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And that tradition lives on into the 21st century.

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In the town of Khasab, I met up with my Omani guide.

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I've met up with Bhada here, who's brought me down to the harbour...

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..to have a look out to sea.

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Hmm.

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Wow, look at the boats go.

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What would these boats be?

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-That's Iranian people.

-Iranians?

-Yes.

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-Heading across the water to Iran.

-Exactly.

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And what do they do? They come over here trading?

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Yes. There is a business between Khasab and Iran.

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The business here is a multi-million pound operation.

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A combination of western sanctions against Iran and high import taxes

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has encouraged rampant smuggling between Oman and Iran.

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They take from here different stuff, like food, electronics, clothing.

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When you say electronics... Televisions?

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TV, radio, fridge, whatever.

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-Sometime they put the car in the boat.

-No!

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-They put the car in the boat.

-They're not slow, eh?

-For sure not.

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Wow, they're like power boats. Look at them go.

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Two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve, thirteen, fourteen in one go.

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And more and more are coming out again.

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It is quite a staggering sight.

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'The smugglers weave their way across the Strait of Hormuz,

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'through the busy shipping lanes, dodging the Iranian Coastguard.'

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I don't imagine the Iranian authorities

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are particularly happy about that, are they?

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No, I don't think so.

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The speed they go at, the size of the boats...

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it does give a sense of a dangerous game being played.

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Sanctions were imposed on Iran because of its nuclear programme.

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But they're not working.

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Iran says it will block the Strait of Hormuz

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and halt global oil supplies

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if the West decides to launch attacks

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to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons.

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The rising tensions have made the waters off the Musandam Peninsula

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one of the major global flashpoints.

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Bhada took me to explore the craggy inlets

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that scar the coast of this otherworldly area.

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Though it's fantastically remote, people do live here...

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on the edge of the rocky hills.

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We're on our way to a community to meet them.

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This place looks incredible!

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Just nestling under these rocky hills.

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Considering so much of the world's oil is passing by a few miles away,

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the Musandam Peninsula is marvellously pristine.

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Amid this arid moonscape,

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the village of Kumzar is only accessible by boat.

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PEOPLE CHANT, RHYTHMIC MUSIC PLAYS

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The Kumzaris, like most Omanis, are Muslims.

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But after hundreds of years of relative isolation,

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hey have their own unique culture.

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And they roll out the carpet for a foreign visitor.

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MEN CHANT IN UNISON

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I do love how...a journey like this,

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around the Indian ocean,

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can throw up such... incredibly different cultures.

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This is so staggeringly different

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from life in Mozambique, for example...

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earlier in the journey.

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And yet all these countries and communities

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are connected by being next to one of our great oceans.

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All around the Indian Ocean, people showed me great hospitality

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and the Kumzaris were no different.

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We bedded down for the night in the village hall.

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I'm absolutely shattered already.

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It's just the heat.

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It really... saps the energy out of you.

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It's going to be a long, hot, sweaty night.

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Living out here in isolation, on the edge of Arabia,

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the Kumzaris have developed their own language,

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containing elements of Persian but spoken nowhere else in the world.

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But centuries of trade HAVE brought outside influences

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and when I met Abdu Salaam, a village elder,

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some of the language proved surprisingly familiar.

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Different kind of language. >

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Even there is some words of English in it also.

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-Words in English, really?

-There is English words.

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BHADA SPEAKS IN LOCAL LANGUAGE

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-Door.

-In Kumzari?

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-"Door" is "door".

-Door is door.

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Door and, er...star. Najim, Arabic, najim.

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So you would stay "star" for the stars

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and you would say najim in Arabic for stars.

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-Exactly.

-We have...we are bonded. We are brothers! Star!

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LAUGHTER

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Can we ask, is this your fishing crew?

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Are these local people?

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TRANSLATION: Yes, my crew starts early in the morning,

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at around 5am, and keeps going until sunset.

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There's a person on the mountain whose job it is to watch the sea.

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Then he directs the others to the fish

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by telling them to move to the left or right or forward.

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So they can catch the fish.

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That is genius!

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So he's the sort of spotter, up there on the cliffs,

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and he says, "OK, now's the time. Get the net out and get them."

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Exactly. That's his job now, on the top there.

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That's your bit. Come on. I'll help you.

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-Bhada, pull harder!

-And you!

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-I don't see you pulling.

-I'm pulling, I'm pulling!

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Oh, right, I see. That's how it is, is it?

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(He's a tough taskmaster!)

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I want to know more about the benefits in this job.

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What are the holidays like?

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Looks to me like they've got a good catch.

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-Are you happy with that as a catch?

-TRANSLATION:

-Yes, thanks to God.

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You've got to take the whole scene in to appreciate

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how spectacular this is, really.

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On the edge of the Strait of Hormuz,

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there's a community here

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still pulling fish out of this bay

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in the way they have done for generations.

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There's no heavy industry polluting the sea here

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and no vast fishing fleet decimating fish stocks.

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The sea off Kumzar is plentiful

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and Oman is one of the most prosperous nations

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on my entire Indian Ocean journey.

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Goodbye and farewell. Thank you very much indeed.

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Thank you, thank you. You are very welcome in Kumzar.

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They might be isolated today but throughout history,

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sailors from this area

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used to trade around the coast of the Indian Ocean.

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Omani merchants used the monsoon winds to travel

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thousands of miles and trade between continents.

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I followed one of those ancient routes

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to the west coast of India

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and headed towards the biggest Indian Ocean city of all, Mumbai.

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It's only when you're at a festival like this

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that you really start to understand

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just how many people there are in this country.

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I'd arrived during one of the biggest festivals

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in the entire world -

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the annual birthday celebration for the elephant-headed god, Ganesh.

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For weeks and months before the festival,

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Hindu fans buy or make statues of the god

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before carrying them as part of a huge procession

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down to the Indian Ocean.

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All this is just a temporary installation,

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if you like, that will be taken down at the end of today.

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Wow!

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And this is Ganesh.

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Hindus believe that paying homage to Ganesh

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will remove obstacles to success

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and bring good fortune over the coming year.

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Vikas Vasudev would be my guide

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on this leg of my journey in western India.

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Ganesh is a visitor during these ten days.

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He visits the people of the Earth,

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and then the way you bid farewell to guests,

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you bid farewell to Ganesh, and you put him back in the Earth.

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This is the all-inclusive nature of this festival.

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This lady, who is just receiving a blessing,

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or giving a blessing there, she's Muslim - this is a Hindu god,

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but this festival brings everybody in the city and the country together.

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For the finale of the festival,

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even this huge Ganesh is carried through the streets towards the sea.

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THEY CHANT

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That is nothing short of miraculous.

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Ganesh is on the forklift truck and he's on the move!

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We joined the devotees, as hundreds of other Ganeshes

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flooded in from different parts of the city.

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All sorts of Ganeshes at this festival, from the big...

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to the small.

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DRUMS BEAT

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It's a traditional Indian festival, set to a very modern beat.

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THEY PLAY DRUMS AND CHANT

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It's totally surreal, being here.

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There's these gloriously dressed,

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elderly Indian ladies,

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following a giant wall of speakers...

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playing Ibizan house, with a slightly Indian twist.

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MUSIC PUMPS

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The monsoon winds made this city

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one of the great Indian Ocean trading ports.

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MAN SHOUTS, THEY CHEER

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And that same monsoon delivers this deluge.

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It's raining, it's getting a little bit dark.

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We're moving close to the sea now

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and the festival is really beginning.

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This is an absolutely extraordinary experience.

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It feels like the whole of Mumbai is out on the beach.

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They're starting to spray Ganesh with water over there,

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and then he's going to be immersed into the sea.

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The Ganesh is going into the sea.

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There he goes, into the water,

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to be immersed and return back to nature.

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Ganesh is the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.

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The festival is hugely popular with the millions of people

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who've flooded into this great city in recent years,

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fleeing rural poverty and seeking a better life.

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It's been a very long and magnificent, wonderful day.

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Ganesh is going into the sea until the early hours of the morning,

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but I think we're going to head off.

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It's colossal.

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I knew it was the biggest city in India, but it just seems to

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go on and on and on, like the size of a small country.

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Mumbai has become a great symbol of India's economic growth in recent years.

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It has some of the most expensive property in the world,

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as well as some of the largest slums.

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Like many people in Mumbai, Vikas is not a local.

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Why did you move here?

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Work, man. This is where the action is.

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-Was it a good decision?

-I love the city,

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and at the same time, I hate it.

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It's the richest city in India,

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at the same time, it also has the most poor people.

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It has the largest slum in India, so it's just full of contradictions.

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In India, this is seen as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,

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isn't it? This is the place to come to, to make your fortune?

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Yes. Definitely.

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This has the biggest pot of gold and the biggest sewer.

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"The biggest pot of gold and the biggest sewer" -

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I need to remember that.

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India's population has more than doubled in the last 40 years.

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There are now at least 1.2 billion people in this country.

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This population explosion is having profound consequences.

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In just a short time,

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Mumbai has gone from being a small port to a mega-city.

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One of the original fishing communities here were the Kolis.

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This is incredible.

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I wondered how India's rapid changes were affecting them

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and the ocean that sustained them for generations.

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We're walking into near total darkness!

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We're down by the sea in a small fishing village that has become an urban warren.

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Are you sure this isn't into somebody's house?

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This is absolutely unbelievable.

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It's really overwhelming here, actually.

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I'm overwhelmed by the sights and senses.

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Bloody hell, look at this.

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The Koli have been fishermen for centuries,

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making a living from the Indian Ocean.

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Now they live down here on the beach,

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surrounded by pollution, muck and tower blocks of the big city.'

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-Namaste.

-Namaste.

-Simon, Amur.

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'Amur is a community leader.'

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How do we mend a fishing net?

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I'll sit there... or I'll sit next to you.

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OK. Through there...right...

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He's a good teacher.

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Can you tell me a little bit about the community you represent?

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-TRANSLATOR:

-'The Koli are the original inhabitants of Mumbai.

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'We are the fisherfolk.'

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What's the fishing like off here?

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This is a huge city.

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I imagine with all the ships and the pollution,

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the fish stocks must be declining, but is that the case?

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'It's difficult for us.

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'Before, we earned good money and our kids ate well.

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'But because of the lack of fish in the sea,

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our life has become difficult.'

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More people means more stomachs to feed. It means over-fishing and more pollution,

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and lack of fish is just one of the problems faced by the Koli.

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Property developers are now after their patch of seafront.

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You live on what looks to me like prime real estate,

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right next to high-rises and in a city of billionaires.

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'I want to stand up and show you this village of ours.'

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Excuse me.

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'There are no toilets or running water here.

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'The high rises have all the facilities.

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'All THEIR needs are met.

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'But no-one listens to us.'

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The Koli people believe they are being deliberately denied basic amenities,

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so they'll have no choice but to move away from the seafront.

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It does feel a little bit to me as though your whole way of life

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is being threatened, because the fish stocks on which you rely are dwindling,

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and you're being squeezed out by the developers who want your land.

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Does the community here feel under threat?

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'You know, everybody wants a piece of this seafront location.

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'But the sea is our God. We make a living from the sea.

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'It feeds our children. So whatever happens, we're not leaving.

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'We'll stay here, come what may.'

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It's perhaps inevitable that a fishing community like the Kolis

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will struggle to survive

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in the polluted waters off a growing mega-city,

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but as this extraordinary country continues to develop and industrialise,

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the impact of India's increasing population

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is being felt all around the Indian Ocean.

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Nearly 200 million people have been added to India's population

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in the past decade. To understand the consequences for the ocean,

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Vikas and I headed to his home state of Gujarat.

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Along the way, I had a fascinating reminder of the connections

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that have linked countries around the Indian Ocean

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for hundreds of years.

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Incredible, we just stopped to help a rickshaw that's got some kind of problem,

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and it's loaded with what appears to be black Africans -

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We're driving through rural India!

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These are the Siddi people,

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the descendants of black Africans who live in communities

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close to the coast in this area and across India.

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Vikas and I went to meet a local leader.

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Meet Simon.

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-Namaste!

-Namaste.

0:22:070:22:09

Very nice to meet you, sir.

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Who are the Siddis? Who are the Siddi people?

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-TRANSLATOR:

-'The Siddis are descended from Africans who came to India.

0:22:160:22:22

'The Muslim princes brought us here from Africa.

0:22:220:22:25

'We have been in Gujarat for 600 years.

0:22:250:22:27

'They were brought here as slaves.

0:22:320:22:34

'They were brought here to work...

0:22:340:22:37

'..because the Siddis are hard-working people.'

0:22:380:22:41

Hello, ladies, namaste!

0:22:460:22:48

African ladies, wearing saris.

0:22:490:22:53

The movement of Africans to India has been little studied,

0:22:530:22:56

but over centuries, the Siddis have found their own place in Indian society.

0:22:560:23:00

Mohammad is saying the communities live very harmoniously,

0:23:000:23:05

and that's pretty unusual, frankly, in this country, which has suffered

0:23:050:23:10

such caste and communal and religious conflicts over the generations.

0:23:100:23:16

It's quite wonderful to hear him saying, "No, we get along fine!"

0:23:160:23:21

Oh, that's the cutest scene!

0:23:250:23:27

'Mohammed took us to a local school, which was full of Siddi children.'

0:23:270:23:32

Namaste. Assalamu alaikum!

0:23:320:23:35

Do any of you know where Africa is? Could any of you come and point to where Africa is on the map?

0:23:350:23:40

Come on, mate.

0:23:400:23:42

Yay!

0:23:460:23:48

SIMON LAUGHS

0:23:480:23:50

Clap, everybody, come on!

0:23:500:23:52

'The children are kept in touch with their history.'

0:23:520:23:56

-TRANSLATION:

-'After they came here as slaves,

0:23:560:24:00

'they were soon recognised as being very hard-working.

0:24:000:24:04

'They were particularly good at working with wood.

0:24:040:24:06

'They were spread right across India,

0:24:060:24:09

'but because of their skills in carpentry,

0:24:090:24:11

'they were brought to Gujarat.

0:24:110:24:13

'They came to Gujarat in 1411,

0:24:130:24:15

'so before 1411, we don't know much.'

0:24:150:24:18

Merchants were trading huge distances across the Indian Ocean,

0:24:190:24:24

centuries before the Atlantic was explored and Columbus reached America.

0:24:240:24:29

They weren't all just slaves, as well.

0:24:290:24:32

So many Africans came as sailors, as merchants, as traders,

0:24:320:24:38

as soldiers, as warriors, to India.

0:24:380:24:42

It's still hardly known about in India itself.

0:24:420:24:45

But this is all about people travelling across the Indian Ocean.

0:24:450:24:50

The ancestors of these little children here

0:24:500:24:54

were blown across the Indian Ocean by the monsoon winds...

0:24:540:24:58

many, many years ago.

0:24:580:25:00

Some experts think millions of Africans travelled to India.

0:25:030:25:07

Many were slaves, but they also came as merchants and warriors.

0:25:070:25:10

There's even believed to have been an African king in central India.

0:25:100:25:15

All around the Indian Ocean, cultures have mingled.

0:25:150:25:18

Sometimes people travelled willingly,

0:25:180:25:21

sometimes they were forced. The ancestors of the villagers here may well been traded

0:25:210:25:25

through the East African slave market I visited in Zanzibar

0:25:250:25:28

on the first leg of my Indian Ocean journey.

0:25:280:25:31

THEY PLAY MUSIC

0:25:310:25:33

MEN BEAT DRUMS

0:25:360:25:40

Centuries have passed since their ancestors arrived,

0:25:430:25:46

but the Siddis still perform dances with African roots.

0:25:460:25:50

This group appears at temples for money.

0:25:500:25:53

MUSIC CONTINUES

0:25:530:25:56

'We travelled on through Vikas' home state, Gujarat, towards the coast.

0:26:270:26:32

I don't like driving at night in India

0:26:320:26:35

because you never know what you're going to find.

0:26:350:26:38

Now, we've got a dangerous obstruction in the road.

0:26:380:26:41

Holy cows!

0:26:420:26:44

How are we going to move the cows?

0:26:440:26:46

Oh, a gentle tap.

0:26:490:26:51

Come on!

0:26:510:26:53

Convoy moving.

0:26:530:26:55

You look a bit tougher.

0:26:580:27:00

Would you mind moving just out of the way?

0:27:000:27:03

Would you mind just moving to one side? We've had quite a long day.

0:27:030:27:06

Would you just mind moving, please?

0:27:060:27:09

Could you help us, city boy?

0:27:090:27:11

He doesn't want to move.

0:27:130:27:15

Whoa.

0:27:160:27:18

The most vital bit of work we've done.

0:27:200:27:22

Oh, my God!

0:27:400:27:41

What a sight.

0:27:430:27:46

Vikas had brought me to Veraval,

0:27:470:27:49

just one of the hundreds of huge fishing ports

0:27:490:27:51

that now dot the coast of India.

0:27:510:27:54

I have never seen anything quite like this.

0:27:550:27:58

It's the biggest fishing port in India,

0:28:010:28:04

and I think it's probably the port in India with the most flags.

0:28:040:28:07

Every trawler is just completely bedecked with flags

0:28:070:28:11

as far as the eye can see.

0:28:110:28:13

There are hundreds, there must be thousands, of fishing boats here.

0:28:130:28:19

There are 4,000 trawlers based here at Veraval.

0:28:190:28:23

On my journey,

0:28:230:28:24

I'd already seen the impact of overfishing on the Indian Ocean.

0:28:240:28:27

This was the first time I'd seen an entire fishing fleet.

0:28:270:28:30

All the boats were moored up,

0:28:300:28:33

waiting for the end of the monsoon season.

0:28:330:28:35

Why don't we see if we can get on this boat? They're waving at us.

0:28:350:28:39

Oh, man.

0:28:390:28:40

A bit of poo there. Afternoon, gentleman! Can we come aboard?

0:28:420:28:48

Several million tonnes of fish

0:28:490:28:51

are landed at ports along the coast of India each year.

0:28:510:28:54

Can there be any doubt this is having a massive impact on fish

0:28:540:28:57

and marine life in the Indian Ocean?

0:28:570:29:00

THEY SHRIEK

0:29:000:29:01

Oh, man, we're going to go into the water.

0:29:030:29:05

It's the world's most polluted water. Save yourself, Vikas! Quick!

0:29:050:29:11

'If anyone could tell me about the health of Indian Ocean fish stocks,

0:29:160:29:19

'it was a Veraval skipper.'

0:29:190:29:22

Is it becoming harder to fish the waters off here

0:29:220:29:25

because of the number of boats?

0:29:250:29:27

TRANSLATION: Yes, the fishing has become very difficult.

0:29:290:29:32

The number of fishing boats has been increased,

0:29:320:29:35

and that's what makes it difficult.

0:29:350:29:38

Because of this, we have to go quite far out to fish. 400-500 kilometres.

0:29:380:29:42

500 kilometres?

0:29:440:29:46

That's the distance you're having to travel out into the ocean?

0:29:460:29:49

That's incredible.

0:29:490:29:51

Do you think we might be destroying fish stocks in our seas -

0:29:510:29:56

is this what you are seeing?

0:29:560:29:59

TRANSLATION: Every year we are catching less fish.

0:29:590:30:02

So every year, fish stocks are reducing.

0:30:040:30:07

It could be that this season will be very bad for us.

0:30:090:30:12

On my journey, conservationists had already warned me

0:30:160:30:19

we're fishing our oceans to death.

0:30:190:30:21

But despite the collapsing fish numbers,

0:30:210:30:24

they're still building more boats here.

0:30:240:30:26

In fact, the fishing industry is subsidised by the Indian government.

0:30:260:30:29

Colossal fishing fleets like this are wiping out the fish in our seas.

0:30:290:30:35

It's devastating to learn about,

0:30:350:30:38

to be told about it - not just by scientists, but by the captain

0:30:380:30:42

of a fishing boat who says he's seeing his catch diminishing.

0:30:420:30:47

He's worried the fish are being wiped out - he's worried,

0:30:470:30:51

I'm worried, we all, in my view, should be worried.

0:30:510:30:54

This might look beautiful,

0:30:540:30:55

but what this sight really is is the destruction of our oceans.

0:30:550:31:00

Ultimately, it's up to governments to reduce

0:31:010:31:03

the impact of the world's growing population on the environment.

0:31:030:31:08

Politicians have to take a long-term view and protect our seas.

0:31:080:31:11

I left India and headed south-west towards the coral island paradise

0:31:160:31:20

widely seen as a barometer

0:31:200:31:21

of the health of the world's oceans - the Maldives.

0:31:210:31:25

I can see literally dozens of tiny little islands

0:31:350:31:38

strewn across a perfectly flat sea.

0:31:380:31:42

Almost like little emeralds.

0:31:420:31:43

This is definitely a contender

0:31:480:31:49

for the most beautiful sight in the world.

0:31:490:31:52

The 1,200 islands which make up the Maldives are scattered

0:31:520:31:54

over 35,000 square miles.

0:31:540:31:58

Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists fly in for a unique

0:32:010:32:05

Indian Ocean experience.

0:32:050:32:08

What a way to travel.

0:32:130:32:14

Look at this. Paradise. We've landed in paradise.

0:32:160:32:21

The Maldives specialises in high-end and high-cost tourism.

0:32:230:32:27

This hotel was keen to show off its luxury suites.

0:32:310:32:34

I know what you're thinking.

0:32:390:32:41

Honest to God, we don't stay in many places like this.

0:32:410:32:45

This is a deluxe beach villa.

0:32:470:32:50

-Is this all for me?!

-This is all for you.

0:32:500:32:53

What's this?

0:32:570:32:59

I've got my own swimming pool!

0:33:080:33:11

This is what people come to the Maldives for.

0:33:110:33:14

And, to be honest, I can really see the attraction.

0:33:150:33:18

Apart from how posh it is here, the thing that really strikes me

0:33:240:33:28

is just how flat the Maldives is.

0:33:280:33:31

The highest point on these islands is only about here above my head.

0:33:310:33:35

So Maldivians say they're very keen on environmental issues,

0:33:360:33:40

because they're aware of what could happen to them

0:33:400:33:43

from things like rising sea levels.

0:33:430:33:45

It also means they're very connected to the ocean.

0:33:460:33:49

And in this luxury resort, you can even have a meal under the sea.

0:33:530:33:57

What is this?

0:33:590:34:00

This is an underwater restaurant.

0:34:020:34:05

HE GASPS

0:34:050:34:07

It's like we're in an aquarium.

0:34:090:34:11

'My guide to the Maldives was Marie Celine,

0:34:110:34:14

'an expert in the environmental issues facing these islands.'

0:34:140:34:18

So, how do you describe yourself?

0:34:190:34:21

You're a scientist, a conservationist,

0:34:210:34:24

coral reef specialist?

0:34:240:34:25

I would call myself a preservationist now.

0:34:250:34:27

We do rely on coral reefs here in the Maldives, in the sense that

0:34:270:34:30

our whole livelihoods depend on it, and our survival.

0:34:300:34:34

-Tourism is that important to the Maldives?

-Yes, it is.

0:34:340:34:38

Tourism and fisheries, which are boats connected to the reefs.

0:34:380:34:42

The entire Maldives archipelago is made up of coral islands,

0:34:420:34:46

one of the most extensive reef systems in the world.

0:34:460:34:50

Marie runs a unique coral conservation project,

0:34:500:34:53

and offered to take me there on her boat.

0:34:530:34:56

Hello, gentlemen.

0:34:560:34:58

Let's set off.

0:35:040:35:06

-Where are we and where are we going to?

-You see that?

0:35:130:35:18

We are somewhere around here.

0:35:180:35:20

So we're moving up and then we'll cross this big channel here.

0:35:200:35:26

How long is it going to take us, given that it's already very dark?

0:35:260:35:30

-We're trying to get there by sunrise.

-OK.

0:35:300:35:32

-So that you will see the beauty of the atoll.

-Tomorrow morning.

-Yes.

0:35:320:35:38

The sort of sky that Turner painted.

0:35:590:36:02

To be greeted by a dawn like this is...

0:36:020:36:05

A tonic, is what it is. A tonic.

0:36:090:36:12

We'd reached an area called the Baa Atoll.

0:36:130:36:16

It's a UNESCO biosphere reserve

0:36:160:36:19

because of the fantastic diversity of marine life underwater.

0:36:190:36:23

It's also a truly stunning sight.

0:36:310:36:33

Although they make up less than 1% of the global marine environment,

0:36:350:36:39

coral reefs around the planet provide food

0:36:390:36:42

and shelter for more than 25% of all marine species.

0:36:420:36:46

These awesome coral structures are made by tiny animals called polyps.

0:36:500:36:54

Reefs are a crucial habitat for hundreds of unique fish

0:36:560:36:59

and marine invertebrates.

0:36:590:37:01

They are also a nursery for many young fish

0:37:040:37:06

from the rest of the ocean.

0:37:060:37:08

It is amazing down there.

0:37:150:37:17

I mean, the colours of the coral

0:37:190:37:20

are like the colours on a paint chart, really.

0:37:200:37:23

And the size of the coral reefs, just from these tiny little corals

0:37:260:37:31

the size of my small finger right up to great dining tables of coral.

0:37:310:37:35

Amazing. It's an amazing place to visit.

0:37:360:37:40

Coral has created this stunning seascape.

0:37:440:37:47

The reefs form protective barriers around the islands,

0:37:480:37:51

creating atolls with stunning turquoise lagoons.

0:37:510:37:54

This is the Indian Ocean at its most glorious.

0:37:550:37:58

I had a poster on my wall when I was a kid

0:38:000:38:03

growing up in London.

0:38:030:38:05

A poster of a tropical island. And this...This looks like it.

0:38:050:38:09

It's just staggering.

0:38:110:38:13

Climate change threatens to raise sea levels,

0:38:160:38:18

which could put the Maldives underwater.

0:38:180:38:21

But scientists fear it is also causing

0:38:250:38:27

the temperature of the sea to rise.

0:38:270:38:29

That's a catastrophe for coral

0:38:350:38:36

because both here and around the world,

0:38:360:38:39

coral reefs are incredibly vulnerable to change.

0:38:390:38:42

-Wow.

-That's a nice piece of coral.

-Why is this coral white?

0:38:470:38:51

When the temperature rises even one centigrade above the usual

0:38:510:38:55

average, and stays like that for a while, the coral polyps get upset.

0:38:550:39:01

Then it dies and this is what becomes of the coral.

0:39:010:39:04

We're not talking about the temperature plummeting to freezing

0:39:040:39:08

-or rocketing to boiling, are we?

-No, not at all. A slight change.

0:39:080:39:12

In what ways is the coral reef

0:39:120:39:14

so important to people here in the Maldives?

0:39:140:39:17

The coral reef keeps the rest of the ecosystems in balance.

0:39:170:39:20

They are like the rainforests.

0:39:200:39:22

And like many of our great rainforests,

0:39:220:39:24

coral reefs around the world are now being devastated.

0:39:240:39:27

There's reef just over here, maybe only 20 metres away from us,

0:39:270:39:32

which Marie was saying was vibrant and healthy just 18 months ago.

0:39:320:39:36

Sea temperatures are now at an all-time high.

0:39:430:39:46

Around the world, coral reefs are dying at an unprecedented rate.

0:39:460:39:50

It's called coral bleaching.

0:39:500:39:52

Coral is also threatened by pollution and fishing.

0:39:540:39:58

Even here in paradise,

0:39:580:40:01

a great swathe of reef was a barren wasteland.

0:40:010:40:03

It's all dead. It really is all dead.

0:40:150:40:19

It's a devastated, and a devastating site as well.

0:40:210:40:25

Like a forest that's been logged.

0:40:270:40:29

The figures are really frightening.

0:40:320:40:34

Three quarters of the world 's coral reefs are now at risk

0:40:340:40:39

of a severe decline because of climate change,

0:40:390:40:42

because of pollution, and because of overfishing.

0:40:420:40:46

And if we lose them, which is possible - some scientists think we could lose coral reefs

0:40:460:40:49

within a single generation - we're not just losing something that's

0:40:490:40:53

pretty for tourists to come and look at, we're losing an absolutely

0:40:530:40:57

fundamental part of our seas, of our oceans, of the marine environment.

0:40:570:41:02

Marie has started a groundbreaking coral regeneration project

0:41:040:41:08

to try to stem the tide of destruction.

0:41:080:41:11

You sure you know the way? Goodness.

0:41:120:41:16

The salvation of the coral... starts here, does it?

0:41:190:41:24

The team here are welding hundreds of special frames

0:41:250:41:29

to literally build new coral reef.

0:41:290:41:32

Do you think I could have a go?

0:41:350:41:37

I love the idea that this is actually going to be used

0:41:420:41:47

to save coral!

0:41:470:41:48

I don't think he's very impressed with my work.

0:41:490:41:53

Happy with that?

0:41:530:41:55

-You got in eight out of ten!

-Eight?! Thank you, sir!

0:41:570:42:00

You must have been bribing him!

0:42:000:42:02

How dare you? This was natural welding skill, I'll have you know!

0:42:020:42:06

'The frames are given a rustproof coating.

0:42:060:42:10

'Then carefully selected live coral cuttings are attached.

0:42:100:42:14

'Marie's husband, Tom, showed me how to do it.'

0:42:140:42:16

I was expecting it to be more complicated.

0:42:160:42:20

You're basically just attaching the coral with cable ties.

0:42:200:42:24

-Yes, basically, that is what it is.

-Fantastic.

0:42:240:42:28

'Over time, this will grow into a new reef.'

0:42:280:42:31

How many of these frames have you put into the water so far?

0:42:330:42:38

-Over 1,000 structures.

-More than 1,000?

-Yes.

0:42:380:42:42

'This project is run at a resort and largely funded by tourists.

0:42:420:42:46

'People who contribute get to have their own name on the reef.'

0:42:460:42:49

We're in a bit of a rush now because this is a live coral

0:42:560:43:00

and it's out of the water. We need to get it back into the sea.

0:43:000:43:03

This innovative project has been a huge success.

0:43:120:43:15

Marie and Tom's reefs are flourishing

0:43:150:43:18

and the technique is being used elsewhere in the Maldives

0:43:180:43:22

and around the world to help save and regenerate endangered coral.

0:43:220:43:25

There's more to the Maldives than just tourism.

0:43:330:43:38

More than 300,000 people live here

0:43:380:43:40

and half the workforce are employed in the fishing industry.

0:43:400:43:43

This is the locals' fish market?

0:43:450:43:47

Yes, it's where the local boats bring their catch.

0:43:470:43:52

They must have had a load just come in.

0:43:580:44:03

'The main catch here is tuna.

0:44:030:44:05

'Some is eaten locally, but much of this is exported to the UK.'

0:44:050:44:08

Does this look familiar?

0:44:100:44:12

That is some yellowfin.

0:44:120:44:15

-This is yellowfin tuna?

-Little... They're tiny.

-Baby yellowfin.

0:44:150:44:21

'Tuna is one of the main fish taken from our seas.

0:44:210:44:24

'In the Indian Ocean alone, it is a multibillion pound industry.'

0:44:240:44:29

Skipper, can I ask, how long have you been fishing?

0:44:290:44:33

TRANSLATION: 33 years.

0:44:330:44:35

How has the fishing changed

0:44:350:44:37

in the three decades that you have been fishing?

0:44:370:44:40

TRANSLATION: Before, we used to get big fish.

0:44:400:44:44

Nowadays, we get very small fish.

0:44:440:44:47

These are the fish left

0:44:470:44:49

after the big boats have caught the fish in the nets.

0:44:490:44:51

Ten years ago, they started using big nets to catch large amounts of fish.

0:44:510:44:58

That's when the changes started.

0:44:580:45:01

After overfishing our other oceans, in the last ten years

0:45:030:45:06

the giant industrial trawling fleets from Europe and Asia

0:45:060:45:09

have begun targeting the Indian Ocean with vast nets

0:45:090:45:13

that scoop up entire shoals of tuna.

0:45:130:45:15

Do you ever see the giant fishing trawlers with the really big nets?

0:45:160:45:23

Do you ever see them when you're out at sea?

0:45:230:45:25

TRANSLATION: We do see those boats.

0:45:250:45:29

Mostly we see the nets which are left after fishing,

0:45:290:45:32

which we see drifting in the sea.

0:45:320:45:34

They're so huge, they can weigh tonnes.

0:45:340:45:37

Here, they don't fish using those obscenely big nets.

0:45:410:45:45

They fish in a much more traditional, sustainable way.

0:45:450:45:49

Tomorrow, I'll get up at the crack of dawn and head out on a boat

0:45:490:45:52

and see how they do it.

0:45:520:45:55

Fishermen in the Maldives have pioneered sustainable tuna fishing.

0:46:000:46:05

But out of sight over the horizon, huge foreign trawlers

0:46:050:46:08

pull hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fish

0:46:080:46:10

from the Indian Ocean.

0:46:100:46:12

Yasir Wahid has witnessed the industrial nature

0:46:140:46:16

of their trawling operation.

0:46:160:46:18

It's quite hard for people to get a sense of the scale

0:46:200:46:23

of the fishing nets used by the big industrial trawlers.

0:46:230:46:27

Can you try to describe to us how big they are?

0:46:270:46:30

Six of them could even cover the entire Maldives archipelago.

0:46:300:46:36

-If you square the islands...

-Wow!

0:46:360:46:38

Yes, to the area.

0:46:380:46:40

They would be able to spread their nets all over our archipelago.

0:46:400:46:44

-Around the country?

-Yes.

0:46:440:46:45

'Using nets more than seven miles long, the foreign trawlers

0:46:450:46:48

'indiscriminately scoop up marine life,

0:46:480:46:51

'including huge quantities of fish they cannot sell

0:46:510:46:54

'and dolphins and turtles.

0:46:540:46:57

'Often this unwanted bycatch, as it is called,

0:46:570:47:00

'is just dumped back into the sea, dead.'

0:47:000:47:02

Every bit of life that was in that part of the sea will be taken out

0:47:020:47:07

and put into a boat.

0:47:070:47:08

It's an incredibly destructive form of fishing

0:47:080:47:11

and I think it's contributing to killing life in our oceans.

0:47:110:47:15

The method used by these Maldivian fishermen

0:47:150:47:18

could not be more different.

0:47:180:47:20

First step is to try to spot the tiny fish

0:47:210:47:24

they use as bait for the tuna.

0:47:240:47:26

They've seen bait.

0:47:290:47:31

He's given the signal and now they want to get the nets in,

0:47:310:47:34

catch the bait... Oh, it's all go!

0:47:340:47:38

MAN SINGS

0:47:380:47:42

Let's get the net in.

0:47:440:47:47

The fishermen surround a small shoal of live bait

0:47:510:47:55

and haul it to the surface.

0:47:550:47:57

This here, fishing like this, they use everything.

0:48:110:48:14

And they don't end up with dolphins in the net.

0:48:140:48:17

In they go, thousands and thousands of them.

0:48:200:48:23

-Is that a good haul? Are they happy with this?

-Yes.

0:48:260:48:30

With the bait in the boat, all eyes were peeled for signs of tuna.

0:48:320:48:36

They're getting ready, they've seen some activity in the water.

0:48:390:48:42

We might be about to start fishing. Tuna? Here we go.

0:48:420:48:47

The live bait goes in and the tuna start flying out.

0:48:470:48:49

-Be careful.

-Wow!

0:48:490:48:52

This is pole and line tuna fishing. It's fast and furious.

0:48:550:48:59

Blinking heck!

0:49:010:49:03

It's a skipjack!

0:49:030:49:06

A skipjack!

0:49:070:49:09

This is a skipjack tuna that Yasir has just caught.

0:49:090:49:14

This is what we eat masses of in tins, in the UK.

0:49:140:49:18

So much of it comes from here in the Indian Ocean.

0:49:180:49:22

Catching fish like this leaves most of the shoal alive

0:49:220:49:26

so they can reproduce - they're not annihilated.

0:49:260:49:29

Tuna caught this way is now available in Britain.

0:49:290:49:32

It's sold as pole and line tuna but it costs just a little more

0:49:320:49:34

than tuna caught by the industrial fishing fleets.

0:49:340:49:37

I haven't caught a single one yet.

0:49:370:49:40

Yeah! Here's a big one.

0:49:430:49:45

-How many have you got now?

-Ten.

-Ten? Ten?!

0:49:450:49:51

-Yes!

-This is why we need to pay a premium for this fish,

0:49:510:49:56

it's bloody impossible to catch!

0:49:560:49:58

Come on!

0:49:580:50:02

Yes! I caught a tuna!

0:50:020:50:04

-In the Indian Ocean!

-Sustainably! Pole and line!

0:50:040:50:09

Sustainably! You are so right!

0:50:090:50:14

Oh, I feel like a proper fisherman.

0:50:140:50:16

You've got to believe in fishing sustainably.

0:50:160:50:20

We have to fish sustainably,

0:50:200:50:23

otherwise we're going to wipe out life in our oceans.

0:50:230:50:27

Fishing this way means that there's very little bycatch.

0:50:270:50:30

There's very little wasted fish,

0:50:300:50:32

and we're not pulling dolphins or turtles out of the water.

0:50:320:50:36

The Maldives is in many ways a unique country.

0:50:380:50:41

They've pioneered eco-friendly tourism

0:50:410:50:45

as well as sustainable fishing.

0:50:450:50:47

But there are contradictions here.

0:50:470:50:49

Despite concerns about climate change,

0:50:490:50:51

the only way tourists can get here is on long-haul flights

0:50:510:50:55

with a huge carbon footprint.

0:50:550:50:58

And of course, tourism has other by-products.

0:50:580:51:00

It's easy to forget that these are populated islands,

0:51:030:51:06

with lots of tourists as well.

0:51:060:51:09

They produce a lot of muck.

0:51:090:51:11

This is really behind the scenes in the Maldives, eh? Oh, my God.

0:51:110:51:19

What a sight! There's a stinking smoke hanging in the air.

0:51:190:51:24

It's actually cascading off the edge there into the water.

0:51:260:51:33

My God.

0:51:340:51:37

There's flies everywhere.

0:51:370:51:40

Are you OK? I don't know if we can get through here.

0:51:400:51:43

This is where the Maldives dumps its rubbish.

0:51:470:51:50

Just 20 years ago, this was another unspoiled coral island.

0:51:510:51:57

Bloody hell!

0:52:010:52:03

The stink, and the dust!

0:52:050:52:07

'Since then, up to 300 tonnes of waste every day

0:52:090:52:13

'has been shipped here.'

0:52:130:52:16

I just swallowed another bloody fly,

0:52:160:52:18

there are so many around here.

0:52:180:52:21

-Look at this!

-Oil drums.

0:52:210:52:25

This is quite a gobsmacking sight.

0:52:260:52:28

These drums here are rupturing and leaking.

0:52:300:52:32

Do you think the toxins will hit the sea?

0:52:320:52:35

I think so, because it is quite porous, the sand,

0:52:350:52:40

here in the Maldives, so then it would seep into the sea from here.

0:52:400:52:44

It's not very far.

0:52:440:52:45

You can just about make out the water there,

0:52:450:52:49

through the haze from the burning of the rubbish

0:52:490:52:52

which appears to be going on.

0:52:520:52:55

FLIES BUZZ

0:53:000:53:01

It's sort of apocalyptic here.

0:53:030:53:05

I don't mind the dust, natural dust, at all.

0:53:080:53:10

But the smoke that is coming off here,

0:53:100:53:12

and the dust that's being blown up is really toxic.

0:53:120:53:18

Bloody hell!

0:53:210:53:23

The scenes here are gobsmacking. Gobsmacking.

0:53:280:53:33

Really upsetting as well.

0:53:330:53:35

More flies than I have ever seen anywhere in the world.

0:53:350:53:39

This is a poisoned environment.

0:53:440:53:46

It shouldn't be happening anywhere, least of all here.

0:53:470:53:50

This feels about as far removed from my images of the Maldives

0:53:540:53:58

as I think it's possible to get.

0:53:580:54:01

For all of us, it is. Even for the Maldivian, this is not real.

0:54:010:54:04

-You don't often see this.

-No, we don't. We don't.

0:54:060:54:09

On the islands, you see little heaps that are being burned,

0:54:090:54:12

but not at this scale.

0:54:120:54:14

You've got such a fabulous environment

0:54:150:54:18

and you've got such an amazing patch of Planet Earth.

0:54:180:54:24

It's desperately sad to see this bit of it being poisoned like this.

0:54:250:54:29

It is. But at the moment, this is the only solution,

0:54:290:54:33

just dumping it here and burning it.

0:54:330:54:36

We need to find proper solutions to manage the waste.

0:54:360:54:39

For me, this is not waste management,

0:54:390:54:42

this is just dumping and burning.

0:54:420:54:43

Yeah, I have to admire the Maldives as well,

0:54:460:54:49

because we're not being stopped from being here.

0:54:490:54:53

For a country that depends so heavily on tourism,

0:54:530:54:57

there hasn't been any attempt to muzzle us,

0:54:570:55:01

or prevent us from seeing this site.

0:55:010:55:04

Partly, I think, because people here in the Maldives

0:55:040:55:07

face the same challenges as we all do.

0:55:070:55:10

The entire world is creating this sort of rubbish

0:55:100:55:13

and nobody really knows what to do with it.

0:55:130:55:16

The government here says that it will sort out the rubbish island.

0:55:180:55:23

I hope that they're true to their word.

0:55:230:55:26

These islands lie at the very heart of the Indian Ocean

0:55:260:55:28

and the environmental stakes couldn't be higher.

0:55:280:55:31

Industrial fishing, pollution, rising sea levels

0:55:310:55:35

and the warming of these coral waters are all insistent threats.

0:55:350:55:40

Before I left, I was hoping to see one of the wonders of the seas

0:55:400:55:43

that make this place so worth preserving.

0:55:430:55:46

-You see the black blanket that pops up?

-Just where the bird is now?

0:55:460:55:52

If you keep looking there...

0:55:520:55:54

'Every new moon, this area receives some very special visitors

0:55:540:55:59

'who come in great numbers to feed on clouds of plankton.'

0:55:590:56:04

These are manta rays.

0:56:060:56:09

Measuring up to seven metres across, they're the largest rays in the sea.

0:56:150:56:21

They travel hundreds of miles from other parts of the Indian Ocean

0:56:270:56:31

to mate among the coral reefs here.

0:56:310:56:34

The mantas seem playful and inquisitive,

0:56:390:56:42

and, despite their huge size, were completely unthreatening.

0:56:420:56:46

That was amazing!

0:56:590:57:01

Actually quite moving. Those are huge creatures!

0:57:030:57:07

Yet they're so... they're so graceful in the water.

0:57:090:57:13

They sort of fly. They fly through the water with these giant wings.

0:57:140:57:21

The mantas are one of the most spectacular examples

0:57:210:57:25

of the riches of the Indian Ocean.

0:57:250:57:27

We still don't know much about them.

0:57:270:57:30

And yet, like the rest of the environment here,

0:57:300:57:33

we're threatening their very survival.

0:57:330:57:35

I found the Maldives one of the most breathtaking countries

0:57:360:57:40

I've ever visited, but what had really surprised me

0:57:400:57:43

about my short visit was just how much I'd learnt here

0:57:430:57:45

about the challenges facing the whole Indian Ocean

0:57:450:57:48

and our global seas.

0:57:480:57:49

This is the end of this part of my journey.

0:57:490:57:53

I've spent so much time in boats, my legs are still wobbling

0:57:530:57:56

now I'm back on dry land.

0:57:560:57:58

But in the next leg, I'll start in Sri Lanka. I'm going to head around

0:57:580:58:02

the Bay of Bengal, and then down the eastern edge of the Indian Ocean.

0:58:020:58:07

Next time: I'll be helping Indian fishermen

0:58:090:58:12

fighting to save our seas.

0:58:120:58:13

I don't think it's good to be the tallest person!

0:58:130:58:16

And in Bangladesh, I'll see the graveyard

0:58:200:58:23

where the world's ships go to die.

0:58:230:58:25

Giant ships with great, huge chunks ripped off them.

0:58:250:58:30

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:500:58:53

This stage of Simon Reeve's journey around the spectacular Indian Ocean takes him from Oman to the Maldives. He starts in the remote and otherworldly Musandam peninsula on the Strait of Hormuz, one of the most strategically important waterways in the world, where oil from the Persian Gulf is shipped through the narrow channel out into the Indian Ocean.

The journey takes him on to Mumbai, the Indian Ocean's biggest port, and the seething festival of Ganesh, and then on to the Maldives - perhaps the most beautiful collection of tropical coral islands in the world. The fragile underwater environment is a barometer for the changing nature of the ocean, and Simon witnesses the impact of coral bleaching, which has damaged the beautiful coral reefs. But nothing can prepare him for the sight of the Maldives' rubbish island - a stinking landfill where the rubbish from the thriving tourist industry ends up.