"Sea-gypsy Children": Human underwater sight secrets revealed


by Ivan Seeking
Tags: human, revealed, seagypsy children, secrets, sight, underwater
Ivan Seeking
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Jul24-04, 04:39 PM
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Gypsy Secret: Children of sea see clearly underwater
John Travis

For hundreds of years, small nomadic tribes called sea gypsies have lived among the islands of Southeast Asia, earning fame for their swimming and diving skills. Sea-gypsy children regularly collect food such as clams and sea cucumbers off the ocean floor. A research team studying one sea-gypsy tribe has now found that its children have better-than-normal underwater vision because their eyes adapt to the liquid environment. [continued]
http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20030517/fob4.asp
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Ivan Seeking
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Jul24-04, 05:57 PM
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Since sea-gypsy tribes have depended on the ocean for hundreds of years, it's possible that the Moken children have inherited genetic variations that enable them to see more clearly underwater, the researchers note. Or it may simply be that with regular diving, the eye learns to adapt to the underwater environment.
When Tsu and I saw this story on the tube last night, after thinking a while she commented that this happened to her one summer. When she was about eleven years old she spend much of an entire summer in the water. She and her friend spent a lot of time looking at objects while underwater and by the end of summer the objects could be seen clearly.

She would have posted but she is doing some continuing ed stuff right now and is very busy, so she told me to post for her.
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Jul24-04, 08:54 PM
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I would have to agree with Tsu's observations. I noticed the same myself when I was a child spending a lot of my summer days swimming around underwater (we had an assortment of toys that were probably meant more for dolphins than people, including things to be retrieved from the bottom of the pool and hoops held down with weights to swim through). It's probably just a matter of the eye adjusting to the changed refraction index when looking through water than air, though I would guess that someone who already has problems with their eyesight might not be able to fully adjust the same way they can't focus either at a distance or close up as (depending on the visual problem). Of course, with seawater, the toughest part is probably getting past it stinging your eyes if you open them. I used to have a lot of trouble with that when swimming in the bay that I didn't have when swimming in a pool.

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Jul25-04, 12:42 AM
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"Sea-gypsy Children": Human underwater sight secrets revealed


I always avoided opening my eyes in the ocean, but I was playing in pretty strong waves, and sand in your eyes was worse than the salt sting.

Yes, I remember being struck with the thought toward the end of my 10th summer how much clearer my St. Christopher medal looked on the pool bottom than it did at the beginning of the summer. I had mentioned it to my friend Shirley (my swimming buddy - we were ADDICTS!! We swam every day!!) and she said she had noticed that, too. I hadn't thought about it again until Ivan and I saw that Show on Science Channel and I suddenly had a memory of my St. Christopher medal at the bottom of the pool! Thought it was very interesting...


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