FRANKLYWNOW - Cali's Breaking News Story

Cali's Breaking News Story

Published: May 17, 2017 4:51 PM Updated:

It's 2 a.m. when the half-moon wakes Hary. He senses its gravitational pull -- feels the moon coaxing fish out of a nearby reef and into his fishing nets here at the edge of Africa.

The 33-year-old fisherman seems to have an almost-telepathic relationship with the coral that surround this castaway island, which is little more than a heap of sand off the southwest coast of Madagascar. That relationship was passed down from his father, and it's one held by Vezo people here.
That word -- Vezo -- is taken to mean "at struggle with the sea," and residents of Nosy Andragnombala define themselves by that struggle. At birth, their umbilical cords are placed in seashells and tossed as an offering into deep blue waters.
They are part of the reef, and it is part of them.

There's little else: No electricity or freshwater. No industry, no jobs, no school. If you don't know the reef -- can't feel its tides and sense its moods -- then you can't survive.
And that makes what's happening on this island all the more tragic.
The reef is disappearing.
Coral have started turning white and dying. No one here understands why.
Local theories abound. Was it that hurricane? A chemical spill? A curse? Moake, an older neighbor of Hary's, told me white coral snagged his fishing net one day. It spooked him, and now he won't return to that spot. "I've already seen the white coral but I don't know what's caused it to become white," Hary tells me. "I don't know whether it's something in the water that's caused it to turn white."
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