Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

Life on the water

At high tide, Lau Lagoon's manmade islands barely rise above the waterline. During king tides and
 strong winds, which are becoming increasingly frequent, some islands are now completely submerged.

Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

People of the sea

According to oral history, and "wane i asi," or people of the sea, have been living on manmade islands in Lau Lagoon for 18 generations. They are said to have come here to be closer to the sea that provides them with a bountiful supply of fish, and respite from mainland's mosquitoes.

Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

The only way is up

As the sea level rises, more and more of the lagoon's residents are building their homes on stilits for a few extra feet of grace.

Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

Water babes

Children are raised to feel at home with the ocean lapping at their feet. The only school is on the mainland, so they're used to making daily the journey back and forth across the lagoon.

Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

Born sailors

Navigating between the islands and the mainland in tiny dugout canoes with plastic sails is a skill gained early in life and quickly becomes second nature.

Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

Stormy weather

Living on the lagoon means being completely exposed to tropical storms. And this one came during what was traditionally the dry season. Lau Lagoon islanders are being forced to contend with increasingly unpredictable weather.

Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

Times of change

John Kaia, 52, is chief of the Aenabaolo tribe on the island of Tauba1. He says that over his lifetime he has seen dramatic changes to the climate - and his people's way of life.

Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

Swept away

Homes lie ruined in the wake of a large wave event. Here, the community decided to not rebuild - the destruction now comes too frequently and on too great a scale to make it worth while.

Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

Fight against time

Living with rising sea levels is an uphill struggle. Essential structures such as this outhouse, only accessible by bridge, require constant maintenance.

Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

Abandoned to the waves

The struggle to maintain this outhouse has long since been abandoned. What was once a part of a family home is now an occasional perch for seabirds.

Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

New neighbors

Many of Lau Lagoon's people of the sea are tying to relocate to the mainland of Malaita. But they are not always welcome. Land disputes mean construction is halted by court order - as with this church.

Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

Fresh start

While some wane e asi struggle for space on the mainland, others are unable to find land there at all, and are building new islands in the lagoon, like this one - still very much a work in progress.

Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

Keeping the faith

Religion plays a central role in daily life in Solomon Islands. Prayer and devotional rituals provide solace in trying times. Many have also relied on the church to help them relocate, as state programs fail to get off the ground.

Solomon Islanders face rising sea levels

Saying goodbye

As Lau Lagoon's islands are abadoned, a way of life that has existed in harmony with nature for generations may be lost forever because of the damage industrialized nations have inflicted on our shared planet.

The people of Lau Lagoon in Solomon Islands have lived in harmony with the ocean for generations. Now, climate change means the sea that sustained them is becoming a threat to their very existence.