Remote. Primitive. Isolated.

Three words among many that come mind when one thinks of the Andaman Islands. Best known as part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, this Indian archipelago, comprised of 572 smaller islands sits approximately 640 kilometers (400 miles) to the west of Myanmar and 1360 kilometers (850 miles) to the east of India. The islands lie at edges of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.

Of the more than 500 islands, currently only 37 are inhabited. Several indigenous tribes - the Jarawa, Sentinelese, Onge, Shompen - make up a small number of the worlds few remaining protected tribes. Thought to have originally come from Africa up to 60,000 years ago, many of these tribes continue to live isolated from modern technology, some having never developed beyond Paleolithic level technologies.

The reason for my visit was to explore and dive several of the smaller and more remote islands. Being so isolated, many of the islands offer divers a look at the pristine conditions found in very few places on Earth.

The black sandy bottoms of Barren & Narcondam Islands, the result of centuries of volcanic eruption; seen here is a site called Purple Haze at Barren Island
Brilliantly colored soft corals at Narcondam Island

Barren Island, one of the most remote of the island chain, is the only currently active volcano in South Asia. Having first erupted in 1787 and again several times over the next two centuries, it continues to dazzle visitors with regular small eruptions of ash and steam.

A Crown-of-Thorns (Acanthaster planci) starfish

Sustainable fishing practices to support families and communities...

...are difficult to balance with those that harm endangered species such as sharks and rays. Dried shark gills at the main market of Port Blair, Andaman Island

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