bengal bay

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The Most Dangerous Island on Earth - North Sentinel Island

Throughout human history a typical theme has been the domination of more technologically advanced societies over “simpler” or “more primitive” ones. In fact in the past 500 years, European societies would come to dominate the world, spreading their culture, often through force of arms or outright genocide.  More often than not, the meeting of Old World peoples with New World natives tended to end very badly for the natives. Many cultures were wiped out, many more assimilated or adapted their cultures with European culture. Today there are few places where people living have not in some way been touched by the modern world. One notable exception is North Sentinel Island, located in the Bay of Bengal.

Officially North Sentinel Island is territory of India, part of the Andaman Islands. In reality the people of North Sentinel Island are their own people, free from any known government or modern organization.  Apparently, the Sentinelese are very much happy to keep it that way. Throughout their entire known history, the Sentinelese have been known to viciously fight against any trespass or incursion on their small island. Going back to ancient times the Indians called the island “Cannibal Island”, and told many tales of the dangerous and ruthless natives who inhabited it. Those tales were passed on to the ancient Greeks after the invasion of northern India by Alexander the Great, and thus the infamous legends of the island were mention by Ptolemy. Marco Polo recieved word of the island during his travels to China, writing about the islanders, “They are a most violent and cruel generation who seem to eat everybody they catch.” 

Since then, every expedition to island has been met with extreme hostility, and as a result the island has been left untouched to this day. Throughout the 16th-18th centuries many an explorer or shipwrecked sailor met their end on the island at the hands of the Sentinelese. In 1867 a British merchant ship shipwrecked on the island, and its surviivg 110 man crew spent several days fighting off the islanders with guns and swords. Many were killed and wounded in the battle before rescue. This prompted an expedition of reprisal by the Royal Navy who landed marines on the island a short time later. Most of the Sentinelese had disappeared into hiding, knowing that they couldn’t fight a battle against such overwhelming force. In the end the British left in frustration with two elderly Sentinelese and four children.

Today the idea of angry natives attacking shipwrecked sailors or explorers might be something you’d only see in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, however Sentinelese resistance to the outside world continued so that even in the 20th century people tended to steer clear of the island. In 1974 a film crew from National Geographic landed on the island in modern boats in an attempt to make contact with the islanders with peace offerings of a box of coconuts, a baby doll, and a live pig. The Sentinelese met the crew fully armed and ready for war. As a result, a the National Geographic director took an arrow to the knee, the pig was mutilated alive, and the crew was forced to bug out under a hail of arrows and spears. 

In 1981 the cargo ship Primrose shipwrecked on the island, and the Sentinelese immediately surrounded the ship, shooting at the crew with bows and several times attempting to board the ship. The crew not only radioed for help, but asked for an urgent airdrop of firearms so they could defend themselves. The drop was delayed by weather but the crew were able to fend off the attacks with a pistol, firefighting axes, and flare guns. They were rescued after a week long siege. The Sentinelese dismantled much of the ship and used the scrap iron for arrow and spearheads. It’s remaining hull can still be seen from google earth.

The only known man to peacefully visit the island was an anthropologist named Trilokinath Prandit in 1991, who several times landed on the island with gifts which he left upon the beach.  When he did meet the natives they shot arrows at him and waved their genitals at him. However at one point he was able to make peaceful contact with some of the natives. However as as he left the island, the natives had a change of heart and began shooting arrows at him once more, he hasn’t been back since.

Today North Sentinelese Island is protected by the Indian Government and it is illegal to land there. The reasons for this are to keep the Sentinelese culture intact, and prevent the spread of disease from the island. Note that in history native peoples often suffered deadly diseases after making contact with newcomers. Another reason for creating a 3 mile exclusionary zone around the island is because in 2006 two drunk fisherman landed on the island and were murdered. Thus the Indian Government set up the contact ban to protect outsiders from the Sentinelese as much as protecting the Sentinelese from the outside world. In 2004 an Indian Coast Guard helicopter flew over the island to see if the Setinelese were OK after the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake, and to offer help if needed. The helicopter found that the Sentinelese were not only OK after the tsunami, but didn’t want anything any aid at all as they fired arrows at the helicopter.

 Today we still no nothing about the language, culture, and ethnicity of the Sentinelese Islanders. The only pictures we have of them are from the occasional illegal drone which buzzes over the island, and is typically met with a hail of arrows. It seems that despite seeing things such as ships, helicopters, and robotic drones, the Sentinelese don’t want fuck all to do with the modern world.

As I walked past them in a restaurant, a couple, on what must have been a first or second date, flagged me down from their table. From their broad, eager smiles, I already knew what they wanted.

“We have a bet,” the woman explained. “He thinks you’re from South America,” she said, gesturing to her date. Her money was on Pakistan.

I am a dulce de leche-colored woman, browner still in the summer. Tallish, with large eyes the color of Coca-Cola. My hair winds into curls at the hint of rain clouds. My lips are brown. “Like the president’s,” someone noted once, trying somehow to square Barack Obama’s multiculti look with my own.

My ancestors hail from the southern part of India, on the Bay of Bengal, which I mention only because the sea once had a way of washing up all varieties of conquerors and marauders on our shores. Lineage is messy.

But in 2017 America, my particular jambalaya of “features” frequently has me mistaken for Ethiopian. Trinidadian. Colombian. African American. It depends on which city I’m in, what I am wearing and, more often than not, who is doing the asking.

Now here was this couple, both white, asking the question I increasingly stumble over.

What am I?

Just another dark-featured, dark-haired woman in a vast sea of immigrants’ kids, I want to tell them.

Or more simply, I am brown. Because the more brown America gets, the more mutable ethnicity — mine, others — is becoming.

Read more here: I am Indian American, and it’s 2017. But I still get asked “What are you?

Animals You Didn't Know Existed

1. The Dhole

The Dhole is a species of canid native to South and Southeast Asia. The dhole is a highly social animal, living in large clans which occasionally split up into small packs to hunt. It primarily preys on medium-sized ungulates, which it hunts by tiring them out in long chases, and kills by disemboweling them. Though fearful of humans, dhole packs are bold enough to attack large and dangerous animals such as wild boar, water buffalo, and even tigers.

2. The Babirusa 

Babirusa, meaning “Hog-deer”, are members of the pig family found in Wallacea, or specifically the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi, Togian, Sula and Buru. If a babirusa does not grind its tusks (achievable through regular activity), they will eventually keep growing so as to penetrate the animal’s own skull.

3. Pink Fairy Armadillo

The pink fairy armadillo is approximately 3.5-4.5 inches long, excluding the tail, and is pale rose or pink in color. It has the ability to bury itself completely in a matter of seconds if frightened. It is a nocturnal animal and it burrows small holes near ant colonies in dry soil, and feeds mainly on ants and ant larvae near its burrow. It uses large front claws to agitate the sand, allowing it to almost swim through the ground like it is water. It is torpedo-shaped, and has a shielded head and back.

4. The Fossa

The fossa is a cat-like, carnivorous mammal that is endemic to Madagascar. The fossa is the largest mammalian carnivore on the island of Madagascar and has been compared to a small cougar. It has semi-retractable claws and flexible ankles that allow it to climb up and down trees head-first, and also support jumping from tree to tree.

5. The Gerenuk

The gerenuk, also known as the Waller’s gazelle, is a long-necked species of antelope found in dry thorn bush scrub and desert in Eastern Africa. The word gerenuk comes from the Somali language, meaning “giraffe-necked”. Gerenuks have a relatively small head for their body, but their eyes and ears are proportionately large. Gerenuks seldom graze but browse on prickly bushes and trees, such as acacias. They can reach higher branches and twigs than other gazelles and antelope by standing erect on their rear legs and stretching their elongated necks.

6.Naked Mole Rat

This creature has a lot of characteristics that make it very important to human beings. For one it is resistant to cancer. They also live up to 28 years, which is unheard of in mammals of its size. It seemingly does not age much in those 28 years either. It remains “young, healthy and fully fertile for almost all its days, which for an elderly animal is equivalent to an 80-year-old woman having the biological make-up of someone 50 years younger.” The naked mole rat is used in both cancer research and the study of aging. Not only making it a bizarre creature, but an incredibly important creature as well.

7. Irrawaddy Dolphin 

The Irrawaddy dolphin is a species of oceanic dolphin found near sea coasts and in estuaries and rivers in parts of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia. Genetically, the Irrawaddy dolphin is closely related to the killer whale.

8. Markhor

The markhor is a large species of wild goat that is found in northeastern Afghanistan and Pakistan. The species is classed by the IUCN as Endangered, as there are fewer than 2,500 mature individuals. The markhor is the national animal of Pakistan. While chewing the cud, a foam-like substance comes out of its mouth which drops on the ground and dries. This foam-like substance is sought after by the local people, who believe it is useful in extracting snake poison from snake bitten wounds.

9. Yeti Crab

Also known as the Kiwaidae, this crab is a type of marine decapod living at deep-sea hydrothermal vents and cold seeps. The animals are commonly referred to as “yeti crabs” because of their claws and legs, which are white and appear to be furry like the mythical yeti

10. Snub-Nosed Monkey

Snub-nosed monkeys live in various parts of Asia and get their name from the short stump of a nose on their round face. Snub-nosed monkeys inhabit mountain forests, in the winter moving into deeply secluded regions. They spend the majority of their life in the trees and live together in very large groups of up to 600 members. They have a large vocal repertoire, calling sometimes solo while at other times together in choir-like fashion.

11. The Maned Wolf

The Maned Wolf is the largest canid in South America, resembling a large fox with reddish fur. This mammal is found in open and semi-open habitats, especially grasslands with scattered bushes and trees throughout South America. The maned wolf is the tallest of the wild canids and it’s long legs are most likely an adaptation to the tall grasslands of its native habitat.

12. Southern Right Whale Dolphin

The southern right whale dolphin is a small and slender species of mammal found in cool waters of the southern hemisphere. They are fast active swimmers and have no visible teeth and no dorsal fin. They are very graceful and often move by leaping out of the water continuously

13. Southern Red Muntjac

Found in south Asia, it has soft, short, brownish or greyish hair and is omnivorous, feeding on grass, fruits, shoots, seeds, birds’ eggs as well as small animals. It sometimes even displays scavenging behavior, feeding on carrion. It gives calls similar to barking, usually upon sensing a predator. Males are extremely territorial and—despite their diminutive size—can be quite fierce. They will fight each other for territory using their antlers or their tusk-like upper canine teeth, and can even defend themselves against certain predators such as dogs.

14. Cyphonia Clavata 

It is a species of treehopper called Cyphonia Clavata that literally has an ant growing out of its head. Well not literally, the ant-like thing on its head is an appendage that hides the treehopper’s actual body from predators.

15. Sunda Colugo

Also known as The Sunda flying lemur, it is not actually a lemur and does not fly. Instead, it glides as it leaps among trees. It is strictly arboreal, is active at night, and feeds on soft plant parts such as young leaves, shoots, flowers, and fruits. The Sunda Coluga can be found throughout Southeast Asia in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore

16. Tufted Deer

The Tufted Deer is a small species of deer characterized by the prominent tuft of black hair on its forehead. It is a close relative of the muntjac, living somewhat further north over a wide area of central China. It is a timid animal, mainly solitary or found in pairs and prefers places with good cover, where it is well camouflaged.

17. Lamprey

Lampreys are a type of jawless fish that live mostly in coastal and fresh waters whose adults are characterized by a toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth. They attach themselves to fish and suck their blood. Lampreys have been around for nearly 300 millions years and their body structure has remained relatively unchanged.

18. Raccoon Dog

The Raccoon Dog, or Tanuki, is a canid indigenous to East Asia. The raccoon dog is named for its resemblance to the raccoon, to which it is not closely related. They are very good climbers and regularly climb trees.

19. The Patagonian Mara

The Patagonian Mara is a relatively large rodent found in parts of Argentina. This herbivorous, somewhat rabbit-like animal has distinctive long ears and long limbs and its hind limbs are longer and more muscular than its forelimbs.

20. The Amazonian Royal Flycatcher

The Amazonian Royal Flycatcher is found in forests and woodlands throughout most of the Amazon basin. They are about 6 ½ inches in length and like to dart out from branches to catch flying insects or pluck them from leaves. They build very large nests (sometimes up to 6 feet long) on a branches near water. The nest hangs over the water which makes it hard for predators to reach.

21. Zebra Duiker

The zebra duiker is a small antelope found in Ivory Coast and other parts of Africa. They have gold or red-brown coats with distinctive zebra-like stripes (hence the name) Their prong-like horns are about 4.5 cm long in males, and half that in females. They live in lowland rainforests and mostly eat leaves and fruit.

22. Star-Nosed Mole

The star-nosed mole is a small mole found in wet low areas of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It is easily identified by the 11 pairs of pink fleshy appendages ringing its snout, which is used as a touch organ with more than 25,000 minute sensory receptors, known as Eimer’s organs, with which this hamster-sized mole feels its way around.

Link!

Sagar Island - India

Sagar Island is an island in the Ganges Delta, by the Bay of Bengal. This island, is a place of Hindu pilgrimage. Every year on the 14th of January, hundreds of thousands of Hindus gather to take a holy dip at the confluence of river Ganges and Bay of Bengal and offer prayers (puja) in the Kapil Muni Temple 

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National Football League teams and their stadium (inspired by x)

Global Warming

Global Warming Chart 1880 - 2017

Scientists have created a global temperature chart that maps the average monthly temperature from 1880 to 2015. The result shows that every single month has been warmer than the early industrial baseline for more than half a century.

The map was created by Climate Central, based on Nasa and NOAA global temperature data, relative to a baseline of average global temperatures between 1881 and 1910.

On the chart, each month is represented by a box.

Light blue colours depict months that were cooler than average, while red boxes represent months that were much hotter than average.

External image

External image

The Unfolding Tragedy of Climate Change in Bangladesh

Bangladesh sits at the head of the Bay of Bengal, astride the largest river delta on Earth, formed by the junction of the Brahmaputra, Ganges, and Meghna rivers. Nearly one-quarter of Bangladesh is less than seven feet about sea level; two-thirds of the country is less than 15 feet above sea level. Most Bangladeshis live along coastal areas where alluvial delta soils provide some of the best farmland in the country.

Sea surface temperatures in the shallow Bay of Bengal have significantly increased, which, scientists believe, has caused Bangladesh to suffer some of the fastest recorded sea level rises in the world. Storm surges from more frequent and stronger cyclones push walls of water 50 to 60 miles up the Delta’s rivers.

At the same time, melting of glaciers and snowpack in the Himalayas, which hold the third largest body of snow on Earth, has swollen the rivers that flow into Bangladesh from Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and India. So too have India’s water policies. India diverts large quantities of water for irrigation during the dry season and releases most water during the monsoon season.

According to the Bangladesh government’s 2009 Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, “in an ‘average’ year, approximately one quarter of the country is inundated.” Every four to five years, “there is a severe flood that may cover over 60% of the country.” Rapid erosion of coastal areas has inundated dozens of islands in the Bay. For example, Sandwip Island, near Chittagong, has lost 90 percent of its original 23-square-miles—mostly in the last two decades.

Climate change in Bangladesh has started what may become the largest mass migration in human history. In recent years, riverbank erosion has annually displaced between 50,000 and 200,000 people. The population of what the Bangladesh government calls “immediately threatened” islands, called “chars,” exceeds four million.

The Bangladesh riverine environment is so dynamic that, as chars wash away, the process of accretion creates new chars downstream. Land is so scarce and the population so dense that the displaced people try to eke out an existence on these new, highly unstable sand bars.

Already, the intruding sea has contaminated groundwater, which supplies drinking water for coastal regions, and degraded farmland, rendering it less fertile and eventually barren.

It is not just people who are affected. The Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world and a World Heritage Site, lies in the delta of the Ganges River in Bangladesh and India. Home to the iconic Bengal tiger, the Sundarbans also play a critical role in protecting Bangladesh’s coastal areas from storm surges caused by cyclones.

Nevertheless, across coastal Bangladesh, sea-level rise, exacerbated by the conversion of mangrove forest for agricultural production and shrimp farming, has resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of acres of mangroves. In the Sundarbans, the number of tigers has plummeted. The World Wildlife Fund predicts that the tiger may become extinct. Further loss of mangrove habitat, especially in the Sundarbans, also means that Bangladesh will lose one of its last natural defenses against climate change-induced super-cyclones.

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Indigenous People of North Sentinel Island

North Sentinel Island is one of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal. It lies to the west of the southern part of South Andaman Island. Most of the island is forested.It is small, located away from the main settlements on Great Andaman, surrounded by coral reefs, and lacks natural harbors.

A group of indigenous people, the Sentinelese, live on North Sentinel Island. Their population is estimated to be between 50 and 400 individuals. The Sentinelese reject any contact with other people, and are among the last people to remain virtually untouched by modern civilization.

Keep reading

YOUR GUIDE TO: 

Writing non-stereotypical, realistic character biographies for South Asian characters. I’ll be focusing on Indians, since that’s what I’m most familiar with, but I’ll touch on other South Asian peoples as well. 

WHY YOU NEED THIS GUIDE: 

I rarely see South Asian characters, and too often they are flat and stereotypical. They all speak Hindi, they’re all scientists and IT guys, and I see the same faceclaims used over and over representing a part of India they actually aren’t from.

WHAT MAKES ME QUALIFIED: 

I’m Indian. I lived there until I was nine years old, and I’m fluent in two different Indian languages, which also happen to be the two most commonly spoken languages in the country. I’m well traveled there as well: I’ve been from the Southern most tip to the Northwest and Northeast as well. 

WHAT YOU WILL FIND UNDER THE CUT: 

Tips on naming the characters, on fleshing out their backstories, an overview of major historical events, stereotypes to avoid at all costs, and a list of faceclaims that I’d like to see more of in the roleplay world. 

Keep reading

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North Sentinel Island 

This ‘quaint’, little island is one of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, as you can see from the pictures above, is that the island is mostly covered in a dense forest and located away from the main settlements on Great Andaman, surrounded by coral reefs, and lacks natural harbours. 

What is the most peculiar thing about this island is that it is inhabited by a group of indigenous people, called the Sentinelese , and do not welcome anybody that tries to encroach on their soil. These peoples, estimated to be between 40 - 500 in numbers, reject any contact with the outside world and remain one of the last group of peoples to remain virtually untouched by modern civilisation. 

Many things are unknown about this odd, tribe of peoples other than the fact that they live in a traditional sense, as in: they maintain a hunter-gatherer society, living in small huts and obtaining the necessary tools to survive in their conditions. 

Contact with these people has been attempted, however, none has been established. Whenever anyone tries to get close to the island, they somehow mysteriously emerge to drive the explorer away using make-shift weapons such as spears and arrows. 

A lot is still unknown about the Sentinelese people and many think we should just leave them to it. 

Additional info: (x)(x)(x)

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In a remote corner of eastern India, far in the jungle and hours by boat from any village, the landscape is changing, despite the people’s small footprint. Climate change has started to reshape some parts of this place, the Sundarbans, where three major rivers — the Ganges, Meghna and Brahamaputra — blend into the Bay of Bengal and tides smudge the boundaries between land and water. It’s a patchwork of islands, some as small as sandbars, others miles long. And it’s home to the world’s largest mangrove forests, nearly 4,000 square miles stretching across India and Bangladesh, full of trees that survive on the border of land and brackish water.

“There are no borders here to divide freshwater from salt, river from sea. The tides reach as far as 200 miles inland, and every day, thousands of acres of forest disappear underwater, only to reemerge hours later,” author Amitav Ghosh wrote in his 2004 novel, The Hungry Tide.

The islands that make up the Sundarbans — the name means “beautiful forest” — are home to 4 million people. They’re also home to nearly 200 Bengal tigers. Unlike most big cats, Bengal tigers are happy in water and swim for miles from island to island. But they’re elusive.

“The first time I saw a Bengal tiger in the Sundarbans, it was some 45 years after I’d first been there,” says Bittu Saghal, a conservationist and the editor of Sanctuary Asia magazine. “So you only see them when they decide that you’re good enough to be given a vision of orange and black.”

Already, an average of 25 people on the Indian side of the Sundarbans are attacked every year by tigers. Some experts warn that climate change will lead to even more tiger attacks.

With every high tide, a huge amount of land in the Sundarbans disappears, says Saghal, the editor of Sanctuary Asia. Rising seas mean the land will shrink even more. Tides are taking away chunks of land that don’t return.

“So tigers, people, everybody gets squeezed into smaller land areas,” he says. “When fields and farms and residential areas get completely unusable and people try to move into tiger habitats, there is an inevitable clash [that] is going to take place. People will die; tigers will die.”

In India’s Sundarbans, People And Tigers Try To Coexist In A Shrinking Space

Photos/GIFs: David Gilkey/NPR and the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve Directorate

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A Time of Empire 

The years during which Rome expanded from provincial town to a world power were also a period of ambitious empire-building elsewhere, far beyond Rome’s reach. In China, the short-lived but aggressive Qin Dynasty triumphed over neighboring states and formed the first Chinese Empire, covering a substantial portion of the modern nation. To consolidate his new territories and erect a bulwark against marauding Huns of North Central Asia, the Qin ruler, Qin Shi Huang, himself a relentlessly cruel autocrat, extended the Great Wall into a single fortified line stretching from the northwest frontier to the sea some 1,400 miles to the east. After his death, his dynasty gave way to the Han rulers who added further provinces to their Empire. 

In India, after the invasion of Alexander brought a brief contact with the West, the Maurya emperors began in 322 B.C. to found a powerful kingdom. It reached its peak in the middle of the Third century B.C. under King Asoka. After a fierce war, Asoka pushed south to the Bay of Bengal. Then, converted to Buddhism, he repudiated violence and passed his years in the tranquil pursuit of peace. 

Bronze Edict from Qin Dynasty (x)

Bilingual Edict of King Asoka  (x)

Mauryan architecture (x)