Humans of the Sea – Saw Thesorow
“I met Saw Thesorow in 2010, when I joined the leatherback monitoring camps in Little Andaman, where we spent 3-4 months on the remote beaches of South and West bay cut off from the outside world. Thesorow’s familiarity with the work and the place, and his quick thinking were always something we could rely on. He always trusted his instincts and had a very balanced approach to problem-solving. Through the years my relationship with him has evolved from being a field assistant, a friend, to a brother.” – Adhith Swaminathan, Base Manager, ANET
A fisherman by profession, hailing from Mayabundar, Middle Andaman, Saw Thesorow has been working at ANET for around 22 years now. He is a regular and experienced staff member for annual sea turtle surveys and has excellent working knowledge of the seascape around Wandoor. At ANET, he manages maintenance and is especially skilled in woodworking and weaving bamboo. He is a patient teacher and a perfectionist, who will make sure that you learn how to make mats or how to tie knots, even if it takes too many attempts. But he is a stickler for time and would not think twice about leaving you on field if you are late.
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 and what got you started?
In November 2008, when an opportunity to work on sea turtles opened up, my brother Agu (who was already working at ANET) suggested my name for the position and asked me if I was interested in joining the team for fieldwork in Little Andaman. Upon hearing “Little Andaman”, I jumped at the opportunity as I had always wanted to go there someday. I was a fisherman before joining ANET and I have been intrigued by wildlife for as long as I can remember. In Mayabunder, I would often spend my time observing the natural world around me. So, in a way, I was already interested in research much before I joined ANET. Moreover, meeting Uncle Paung and Satish Bhaskar during their fieldwork on sea turtles fueled my curiosity and further motivated me to work in this field.
Over the years, I have assisted on several sea turtle surveys in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. I have also worked on other projects, operated the dungi to facilitate research and assisted with work involving SCUBA diving.
What challenges did you face when you started?
I do not remember struggling much with fieldwork, probably, because I was already accustomed to working in the sea as a fisherman. However, during my initial years in Little Andaman, we were warned that there were a lot of poachers in the area on the hunt for wild pigs, crocs, sea cucumbers and for anything of value, and it was a constant worry. We were obliged to walk long distances between Hut Bay and our field site, carrying several days’ worth of rations. There was also the added difficulty of being new and unfamiliar with the area. Nevertheless, I see these challenges as part and parcel of our work. This year, we couldn’t go to the field due to the pandemic and I often watch videos of our earlier field seasons in reminiscence.
What is that one event in the wild that sums up why you are here or strengthened your resolve to continue? Any other interesting experiences that you would like to share?
It is difficult to name a single event that drives my motivation to work in this field. I love studying sea turtles and I try to learn as much as possible about their biology from fellow researchers during our field trips. Apart from this, I also feel a sense of community at ANET. It makes me very happy to meet different researchers and I am always eager to learn more about their work.
What do you want to tell people in our country?
Post Tsunami, there have been significant changes in these islands. Based on my personal observations, animals like sea turtles have been more vulnerable to changes in their habitat and need to be protected. The knowledge we have about our islands and its ecosystems needs to be passed on to younger generations so they can, in turn, pass it on to the generations that follow.
We hope you found inspiration in his story. Click here to learn more about the research projects at ANET!