Haenyeo refers to the women free-divers of Jeju Island, South Korea who for centuries have collected sea food without the use of scuba equipment.
The tradition of free-diving began as an occupation for women when the men of the island would spend days at sea fishing. In later years, during Japan's annexation of Korea, the women's work became a vital way to circumvent a hefty tax imposed on men's income, and lead the Haenyeo becoming the sole bread-winners for their families. This gave rise to the creation of a unique matriarchal society on the island which to this day still sees the women as the head of their house-holds.
As the modern age creates different opportunities for young women of the island, the labor intensive work of free-diving, once passed from mother to daughter, is being abandoned. As a result, it is the "grandmothers" who have become the sole bearers of this historic profession. Ranging from their 60s, into their 80s, these women continue to dive almost daily, as they have since they were young.
Despite their declining numbers, the traditions of the Haenyeo are kept alive by those still working to provide for their families, and by a thriving tourism industry that brings hoards of international travelers hoping to get a glimpse of these amazing women.
The images shown here were made in 2013 during the production of the documentary Haenyeo: Women of the Sea.
© Alex Igidbashian
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Yucatan Pennisula, Mexico | 2015
On a sunny morning just south of Cancun a group of workers try to clean the sargassum seaweed from a beach front resort. In the end, it is a losing battle as the seaweed continues to wash ashore by the ton day after day.
The problem has become so large that the government of Mexico has gone to great lengths to try to remedy the situation that is crippling both local and tourism industries. At the moment, the only solution is to do as these workers do -- shovel, wheelbarrow, bury, and repeat.
These were shot on my Samsung Note4 cell phone
Astrophotography from various places around the world.