The people and wildlife of the Amazon in Brazil coexist in a rainforest that many call the "lungs of the world."
Life in the Amazon
KERRY SANDERS reporting:
A vast jungle that's home to wildlife and plants, still to be discovered. Monkeys of all shapes and sizes here. Birds boasting with color. Magical pink dolphin, playful when a group of children feed them pieces of cut bait. And, of course, there are the Brazilians who call these riverbanks home. The Amazon, here in Brazil, this unique rain forest is larger than New York, California, Utah, and Tennessee combined. Our journey this morning takes us far from the cities. Here an estimated 125,000, including Native Indians, live in the largest freshwater archipelago in the world. Guiding us through this untamed region, Luis Megales.
Mr. LUIS MEGALES: Wild chicken.
SANDERS: There are two major rivers in the rain forest here: the Amazon and the Rio Negro. The meeting of the rivers unique because of different PH levels in the water. The rivers collide the way a child might color with crayons: Red on one side, black on the other. At this time of year the water levels rise 30 feet, not high enough to hide our first surprise. In the jungle, a white sand beach, Praia Grande. Here, 16 men join as a team, fishing four months of the year. The elder fisherman sits atop a tower.
Do you actually see the fish?
Unidentified Fisherman #1: (Foreign language spoken)
SANDERS: He knows the fish are there because he can see the surface begin to vibrate. Hours of boredom now punctuated by excitement. There is no room for competition amongst men. It's a theme we saw emerge throughout the rain forest, people working together for survival. These fishermen here share the work, the catch, and the money they will earn selling the fish down river. This is a good day, they say. Each man netting about $4 for 12 hours' work.
Unidentified Translator: It's a poison fish.
SANDERS: Caught this day, a fish unlike any you have ever seen.
Translator: If you scratch your hand over here, you're going to have like at least 24 hours with a very high fever and diarrhea.
SANDERS: Locals call it Cuyu-cuyu, plated with armor, this pre-historic cat fish is not to be played with.
Upriver, boat builders busy constructing a new fishing vessel. It will take 15 months to complete. Utavillara Oliveira says his oldest son disappears into the rain forest for a week to find just the right itauba tree. The best boat building lumber from 100 year old trees.
Would he like his son to follow in his footsteps building boats?
Translator: (Foreign language spoken)
Unidentified Man #1: (Foreign language spoken)
SANDERS: He says no, I don't want my son to build boats because this is a sad job. I recognize every tree I need is destroying our rain forest.
American tourists who travel here say after they see the plants and the unique pink dolphins, they can't help but notice what the residents here have that we do not.
Unidentified Woman: They have a simplicity about their lives, which is so beautiful. And I think that we complicate our lives with so much.
SANDERS: Simplicity, like Alejandro shimmying up a acai tree. The Rivera family believes what the Yanomama Indians discovered 250 years ago: the nuts hold unique powers. Stripped from the limbs, mixed with boiling water, then mashed. A little help always welcome.
TODAY show does a cooking segment.
In the rain forest, the acai drink is believed to help women after birth and to give anyone who drinks it a burst of energy.
Unidentified Man #2: (Foreign language spoken)
SANDERS: (Foreign language spoken) It's good.
In keeping with the spirit of the people here, Sebastian would not let me leave empty handed. The Amazon rain forest, sometimes called the lungs of the planet, unlike any other place on earth. For TODAY, Kerry Sanders, NBC News in the Amazon rain forest.
ESSENTIAL UNDERSTANDINGS (K-5 Level, ELL)
What is the relationship between geography and people?
What are natural resources?
How do people use the Earth’s resources?
What is culture?
How does culture reflect the history, daily life, and beliefs of a particular group?
How is culture transmitted?
KEY TERMS (K-5 Level, ELL)
(Written and Produced by the Curriculum Specialists of The Mandell School)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - In December 2014, three Amazon tribe members - a young man, his mother and an elder female relative - were led out of the forest they had lived in their whole lives. They were taken to a village in an outside world they had rarely seen.
Amazon River, Rio Negro River, Rainforest, Brazil, Brazilians, Indians, Native, Indigenous People, Tradition, Wildlife, Monkeys, Pink Dolphins, Fresh Water, Archipelago, pH Level, Fishermen, Fishing, Prehistoric Catfish, Boat Building, Culture, Geography, Simplicity, Cooperation, Tourism, Survival, Natural Resources, Culture, Geography