Oceans of Opportunity

sink or swim

'A New Life in the Sea' by Michael LombardiA recent article in the New York Times discussed the importance of knowing how to swim, especially for children, citing that the second leading cause of death for 1 to 19 year olds.

With history revealing that modern ‘civilization’ has largely taken root in coastal areas to afford improved commerce and access to various aquatic resources, with continued coastal evolution even today, I often consider why we humans have not taken evolutionary steps to be more aquatic by nature – deep within our DNA.

Consider this – remnants of lost civilizations have been found submerged on nearly all continents. These were destroyed by tsunamis, coastal flooding, earthquakes, volcanoes, and sea level rise. Sound familiar?  This still goes on today – New Orleans, the New Jersey Coast, and so on. We humans face an immense ongoing battle with coastal civilization which apparently continues to sink.

So, why are we swimming?

An aquatic ape hypothesis has once been proposed, originally by German pathologist Max Westenhöfer in 1942. The controversial theory was that ancient humans once led a semi-aquatic lifestyle, and shared some lineage with other aquatic mammals. Of course the complication in all this is that there is no fossil record to support it. Then again, how could there be when such a discovery would only come from exploring portions of our continental shelf that are so very out of reach.

Nevertheless, it is evident to me that swimming as a survival skill should be ingrained in our species from this point forward should we have any chance for long term survival and evolution on this watery planet. There very well could be a day where we rely on our ‘mammalian diving reflex’ to get to work in an office on the seafloor, yes? Absolutely yes!

So, as you trek out this summer and stare at the water’s edge, consider taking a bold step. The ability to sink or swim could have a profound impact on the future sustainability of our species right here on the Blue Planet.

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