ANDREW TESTA | Panos Pictures



The Moken are a nomadic tribe who live on the Surin Islands islands 60 km off the coast of Thailand. Recent scientific studies have shown that the underwater eyesight of Moken children is more than 50% percent better than the underwater eyesight of other children. Scientists believe that the Moken train their eyes to see better out of necessity, they have to hunt for fish, and also make out things on the sea bed far below them.

Experiments are now underway in Sweden to see if other children can train their eyes in a similar way. The Moken spend a large part of their time in the sea, and seem almost as at home in that environment as on land. At present they have no Family names or citizensip, but the Thai authorities have proposed that they all be given the same second name, roughly translated it means "Hero of the Sea".

The entire Moken population of the Surin Islands survived the recent Tsunami. News reports say that by the time the waves crashed ashore, the Moken were already on the higher ground and therefore safe. According to interviews they relied on the sayings of their ancestors which have been passed down through generations (they have no written language) which warn of the sea disappearing and then returning with a terrible force.

Isole Surin, 2004
A boy jumps from his bamboo home, built on stilts above the water, into the sea
© Andrew Testa

Began his photographic career in the early 1990s working as a freelance for the Guardian and Observer newspapers. In 1999 he shifted his attention to international current affairs covering the war in Kosovo and moved to the Balkans at the end of the year which he used as a base to cover events throughout Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. He now splits his time between New York, London and Kosovo.

He is a regular contributor to the New York Times and The Observer and his work has been widely published internationally in magazines such as Newsweek, Stern, Geo, Time, The Sunday Times Magazine, Mother Jones, and Mare. He has received many awards including three from World Press Photo and three from Pictures of the Year. He has twice been named photojournalist of the year by Amnesty International, and has received a Getty Grant for Editorial Photography for his work in Kosovo.

2008 - NPPA Best of Photojournalism
2007 - Amnesty International / Photojournalist of the Year
2006 - World Press Photo
2006 - Days Japan
2006 - Getty Grant for Editorial Photography
2006 - NPPA Best of Photojournalism
2005 - International Documentary Photography - Korea
2002 - World Press Photo
1997 - Amnesty International / Photojournalist of the Year
1994 - World Press Photo

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