Saving the Reef for the Fishermen
I've got a feature in the April 2012 issue of Scientific American about a group of social scientists who are studying the human impact of marine conservation in West Papua, a political tinderbox located in the center of the Coral Triangle. On the website, you can watch a slideshow of some of the amazing people whose livelihoods depend on the fish of the region.
Reporting for this story was nearly a disaster. The Indonesian government failed to give me a journalist visa, and, several weeks, before my arrival, violence broke out in Jayapura, Papua's largest city. The scientists I planned to spend time with had to cancel their research trip, and I arranged to travel to Mayalibit Bay with the help of some local conservationists. In addition to a visa, you're supposed to have a special document called a surat jalan due to the political unrest. I had neither, and I was on edge until we finally arrived on islands where all was calm, and I fell in love with the place.