Golden green grunge for rare red orangutans

It’s a biologist’s dream — a rock band that’s named after plankton and makes conservation cool.

Navicula means small ship in Latin. It is the name shared by an estimated 10,000 species of microscopic algae that are part of the larger group called diatoms that forms the basis of freshwater and marine food chains.

These tiny plankton produce about a quarter of all the oxygen we breathe. They feed the tiny creatures that feed the little fish that feed the bigger fish we eat. They are critical to our lives but rarely get a mention.

So it was good to learn this week that the name Navicula also belongs to a psychedelic rock and grunge group from Bali, Indonesia, and that the band is more environmentally aware than most.

They have recorded songs about pollution in Jakarta, the excesses of coastal development in Bali and the threats posed by pesticides to Bali’s beautiful fireflies.

The ‘green grunge gentlemen’ have now turned their attention to the plight of one of our closest relatives, with a new song “Orangutan”.

A major threat to these apes is the our demand for palm oil, which appears in thousands of products from processed foods to cosmetics and biofuels.

To meet this demand, the industry has replaced millions of hectares of diverse rainforest — and prime orangutan habitat — with oil palm plantations where wandering apes risk being captured or killed. (see Borneo’s eco-stranded apes with nowhere to call home)

Meanwhile, the search for a sustainable way to produce palm oil and protect biodiversity goes on.

In comments published on, Navicula vocalist Gede Roby Supriyanto explained what motivated the band to record a song about the sector and it impact on orangutans:

“Our hope is for improvements in policy, power, and government control over the palm oil industry, because right now the palm oil industry has a “law” itself outside the law of the state of Indonesia. We also need tighter control to support the preservation of the environment and local economy, so that they become healthier for more local communities, the forest, and so that they are more sustainable.” notes that the song’s video includes footage from Green, a documentary about orangutans that has won 36 awards to date and is available free online.

click to watch GreenYou can watch the 48-minute documentary (or its 1-minute trailer) online by clicking on the photo above.

Or, for a livelier look at some of the film’s footage, check out Navicula and their song about Asia’s rare red ape.

6 thoughts on “Golden green grunge for rare red orangutans

      • Not often, though I was there earlier this month for a meeting about great apes (see this post) and a field trip to C. Kalimantan (see this one), which I will blog some more about tomorrow. Say hi to the guys in Navicula — I like their sound.

      • yeah i teach in Medan not one of my 50+ kids i teach has been to the jungle or knows what is happening. I am trying to show them but the school is reluctant to let the kids go and have look. It says it will upset their parents, so videos is all they see.

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