In the middle of the languid bright blue lagoon in Maldives, with stingrays and baby sharks swimming under the gangways, the breakfast at the island resort is a heady elaborate affair. “How do you manage to smuggle in bacon in a Muslim majority nation, that takes its religion seriously”, I ask the hostess. She shrugs and says, “We import everything”, and pointing to the smoked salmon on her plate says, “ This has come all the way from Belgium”.
The timber for the wood-villas, spiraling outward into the shallow waters, a guide tells us, later in the day, was shipped from Malaysia.
Ecologically fragile, tropical tourist sunspots around the world, rely heavily on import while exporting their ecological troubles elsewhere.
The concerns in these Eldorado’s are epicurean. For the holidaymakers, the ocean is often just an accessory. Why wet your toes in the sea when your villa comes with an infinity pool?
The oceans have always been a brooding mystery and we are willing to keep them that way. Our obsessions, our aspirations, our dreams are all terrestrial. We are a blue planet (71 percent water) but we are happy to live out our lives on 29 percent of it. In our stories, the oceans are where we embark on long odysseys to reach finally with relief on some shore. We know more about the surface of the moon (and soon of Mars) than we know about the ocean. We send out radio telescopes probing for extraterrestrials when aliens inhabit our seas, many waiting to be discovered, many vanishing in an event called the “background extinction”, before we can even discover them.