Humans of the Sea – Naveen Ekka

PC- Manish Chandi

“Naveen is in his element when he’s doing fieldwork. A jack of all trades, he has served various roles as a cook, a sharp field assistant, a certified diver and an expert snake handler.” – Adhith Swaminathan (Base Manager, ANET) on Naveen. 

Naveen Ekka is one of the oldest members of the Andaman Nicobar Environment Team (ANET) field station. He started as a field assistant working on a project on sea turtles in Jahaji, Rutland Island, where he is from. Currently, he oversees all the operations at ANET and has a tonne of experience with various projects. At the same time, he is very humble and always eager to learn. He continues to be an invaluable asset to the organization and to the researchers working in the islands.

We’re extremely grateful to have him on our team and would like to share his journey with you.

Why are you working for wildlife?

My parents and I have always lived close to nature – we depended on it and so did the older generations. I was 17 when I got the chance to continue to stay close to nature and work on a project on sea turtles in Rutland Island, as a field assistant for ANET. This was my first job and I have continued to work with ANET on different research projects. I really enjoy the work; I get to visit many remote parts of the islands, which would not have happened otherwise, and also observe and understand different animals that live on the islands.

PC- Adhith Swaminathan

What challenges did you face when you started?

In reality, I did not face any challenges. My biggest worry was to find a job and when I got the opportunity to work in Jahaji – a beach I frequented as a child – on sea turtles, my dream came true! Spending time on the beach always brought me a lot of joy. ANET allowed me to work on similar research projects in other parts of the islands and since I enjoyed my work and was also clueless about the process of finding a job, I continued to work with ANET and never really faced any challenges.

PC- Saw Thesorow

What is that one event or experience that strengthens your resolve to continue?

The work that I do as a field assistant is very different from the kind of jobs that other people from my village and Island do. Some folks work as laborers, some in hotels or bars, but my job involved many different aspects that I enjoyed. Through my work, I learned a lot about the environment, wildlife and the research that was carried out. I was never tempted to look for other jobs as I was very comfortable in what I was doing. It kept opening up new aspects like scuba diving and snake handling that added to my interest and experiences. So there is no one event, almost every project I worked on has given me a lot of memorable experiences that keep me going.

PC- Adhith Swaminathan

What do you want to tell people in our country?

Protect the environment and the wildlife around you. If each one does their bit and also educates others around them, the future generations can experience the magic of these animals in places like Jahaji of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

We hope you found inspiration in his story. Click here to learn more about the research projects at ANET!

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