Mr. Van is the highly revered, elder ex-fisherman and dugong hunter who now works for our local partner, Senses Diving Center, Vietnam helping countless Vietnamese learn to snorkel and dive for the first time, keeping them safe all the while. Mr. Van recalls a time before wildlife protection when he used poison and dynamite to catch fish and nights when he would commonly harvest 10-15 sea turtles. Mr. Van’s life changed decades ago when he lost two sons to a fishing accident and he risked poverty by leaving fishing and hunting forever. Mr. Van moves many hearts when he speaks of the great declines and extinctions he has seen in beloved marine species, and warns his community that life must be protected or they will all be impoverished with no more fish to catch. Although most TBG folks don’t share a common language with Mr. Van, that does not keep us from profound mutual understanding and support of one anothers work.

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