For a Living Ocean

Article on Indigenous People’s Diving Skills

Swedish scientists have studied the diving skills of Ama in Japan and Bajau Laut in Philippines. The result is fascinating: the divers in both groups stay in general more than 50% of the working time under water while spearfishing or sea harvesting. Erika Schagatay, professor at the department of engineering and sustainable development at Mid Sweden University, has lead the study.

The study gives strong support to the idea that repeated diving has played an important role in the human evolution. Read the article here: Underwater working times in Ama and Bajau. The article was published in March 2011 in Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine.

3 responses

  1. Interesting study~
    Surprising that this diving pattern hasn’t been studied before, or there are still much about the Sea Nomads that we don’t know…
    It will be interesting to compare the pattern with sea otters and seals. But the the question is — does this prove again the diversity and versatility of the human culture? or if these people are the direct descendants of the coastal migrating people, could it be a peep into human’s semi-aquatic past?

    January 14, 2012 at 11:00 am

  2. Hi Chak! Thanks for your comment! Yes, I think that much is still unknown about the sea nomads Bajau Laut. I think that their impressive diving skills and habits tell us that human beings are particulary well-adapted to a marine life (as for example the diving reflex among infants also). It is also likely that the marine environment made it possible for our brains to grow as we got access to necessary nutrients as Omgea 3 – which probably also can explain the development of human culture.

    However, I don’t think it is likely that Bajau Laut are descendants of the coastal migrating people who reached Southeast Asia approximately 50 000 years ago. Probably Bajau Laut became boat nomads much later and not because of self maintenance, but because of a lucrative trade with ancient Malaysian kingdoms, starting approximately 1 000 years ago.

    Nevertheless, Bajau Laut have been able to take advantage of inherited marine adaptations and utilized latent diving skills.

    January 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm

  3. Pingback: To the depths- Sama & Badjao Diving | Magsinama Kitam!

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