Marine nomad kid hitches a ride on a shark

In National Geographic, a rare moment of marine nomadism, as a sea nomad child called Enal hitches a ride by holding onto the tail of his friend, a tawny nurse shark. The picture is by James Morgan, submitted to the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest (Top prize: Photo expedition for two to the Galapagos with a National Geographic photographer).

Enal, a young sea nomad, rides on the tail of a tawny nurse shark, in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Marine nomadism has almost completely disappeared in South East Asia as a result of severe marine degradation. I believe children such as Enal have stories that could prove pivotal in contemporary marine conservation.

Spontaneous Moments—Week 4 Gallery (Thanks, Marilyn!)


  1. In that part of Indonesia you can buy a one day shark travel card, a two day shark travel card or a monthly shark travel pass (which is the best deal, money-wise)

  2. Um, the shark is not his “friend”, it’s a wild animal that should not be fucked with. And while nurse sharks will put up with more shit from pinheads than most sharks, they are known to turn on the human idiots who harass them in order to exact their pound of flesh. And the schmucks are always shocked: “Who would ever have thought…?!!!”

    1. I would be willing to wager that this child knows a great deal more about dealing with (and playing with) sea-creatures than you or I ever will.

        1. I think that kid knows more about handling sharks than you do about handling people, or cards

      1. The kid looks happy and he’s more or less safe, unless the playful shark decides to whip around and make a Happy Meal out of the kid himself – I’m always reminded of the keen and dedicated wildlife expert STEVE IRWIN who was killed by a playful jab from a stingray. Heck, I don’t even trust our 3-month old kitty. That thing has some serious kitten fangs.

        1. Please take a deep breath, Google ‘tawny nurse shark’, and get a clue.  Unless the kid suddenly becomes a small invertebrate, he’s probably pretty safe from being eaten.  There are thousands of species of shark, and only a handful have any interest in nomming humans, even ones that are Riding the Soupfin Express.

          1. It’s not only interest…it’s also ability.  Nurse sharks are small.  Their mouths literally aren’t big enough to take a chomp out of that boy’s leg.  And yes, I have been within a few inches of a nurse shark’s mouth 4 times, so I am speaking from experience.

        2. Exactly, Steve Irwin is a perfect example of an “expert” who still insisted on fucking with wildlife for no good reason. Wild animals aren’t toys or props or means of making you feel feel one with nature, no matter what Disney may have taught you. 

          1. As both an animal lover and an Australian, I find your comment to be distastful and I shall be using it at the first available opportunity.

        3.  peh. Irwin and his crew boxed the stingray in while rushing to get footage for his daughter’s TV show. A costly mistake.

  3. I think it is safe to say that Steve Irwin was a “jack of all trades, master of nothing” when it came to animals in general. This child is in no doubt a master of his watery environment.
    I agree with you Judas that wild animals are not toys and should not be fucked with however I do believe that there is plenty of supporting evidence that there are numerous aquatic creatures out there that go beyond just tolerating us. Even to such a degree as to “befriend” us in a playful manner.

  4. This child’s magical familiar is that knife-toting golden eagle we saw the other day, and he lives inside one of those Icelandic volcanoes whose ash clouds spawn lightning. He is more metal than I could be in ten lifetimes. 

  5. It’s probably a vegetarian shark. They tend to be very trendy.

  6. What the *!@#  is a “sea nomad child” ?

    Is it really assumed that this is within the realm of general knowledge?

    1. My question as well. Are there little children that just float around the seas, catching rides on sharks, octopi, surfing the waves with the seas turtles?


      Diana Botutihe was born at sea. Now in her 50s, she has spent her entire life on boats that are typically just 5m long and 1.5m wide. She visits land only to trade fish for staples such as rice and water, and her boat is filled with the accoutrements of everyday living – jerry cans, blackened stockpots, plastic utensils, a kerosene lamp and a pair of pot plants.

      Diana is one of the world’s last marine nomads; a member of the Bajau ethnic group, a Malay people who have lived at sea for centuries, plying a tract of ocean between the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

      1. That whole article is fascinating. This part in particular – just so hard to wrap my head around:

        “Since diving is an everyday activity, the Bajau deliberately rupture their eardrums at an early age. “You bleed from your ears and nose, and you have to spend a week lying down because of the dizziness,” says Imran Lahassan, of the community of Torosiaje in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. “After that you can dive without pain.” Unsurprisingly, most older Bajau are hard of hearing. When diving, they wear hand-carved wooden goggles with glass lenses, hunting with spear guns fashioned from boat timber, tyre rubber and scrap metal.”

  7. Reminds me of Walter John Williams “The Green Leopard Plague”

    Funny to see that his idea wa snot original at all, but adapted from this. Still it is a fascinating story.

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