By K’odhiambo Owuor
In the islands of the Philippines, we have a unique ethnic group of people known as the BAJAU who are known to be sea nomads due to lots of time they spend under the deep ocean waters. They are now endangered due to industrial fishing mechanisms.
Scientific research done on them reveals that they have larger body spleens body organs as compared to ordinary people and this assists them to be able to stay 200 feet (60 meters) under water fishing for over 15 minutes without any gear on and withstand the atmospheric pressure at the sea bed.
When you dive under water your body immediately triggers a mechanism called diving response. Your heart rate slows, blood vessels constrict and spleen contracts. All this is but an adaptation by the body to save energy where oxygen is very low. Some people can be able to stay under water for few seconds or few minutes.
The Bajau people don’t have the usual American navy top gears for diving under the water. Yet, they are able dive in deep sea and stay for more than 15 minutes under the water searching for fish and other types of sea foods.
Scientists have backed this adaptability to genetic mutation which has made Bajau people have a large spleen than the rest of us. You see that organ helps humans to recycle red blood cells and support the immune system. Study has shown that the mammals who spend most of their lives under water have very big body spleen.
By recycling red blood cells, the body is able to have many red cells which carry the oxygen around the body for burning of stored ATP for energy.
It is said that natural selection has helped Bajau who have lived in the seas for thousands of years to adapt to the environment.