The mysterious Bajau tribe of Indonesians: “People are fish”

Members of the Indonesian Bajau tribe have mutations in their genes that allow them to stay in the water much longer than the average person can. They are able to dive without equipment or training to 60-70 meters and hold their breath for more than 10 minutes.

Scientists who studied the phenomenon of these aquatic people have conducted a thorough analysis and are convinced that these people are truly unique.

The Bajau are called sea gypsies. Their culture originated about 1,000 years ago. Their habitat was the coastal waters of the Philippines and the Solomon Islands.

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They live in floating houses on stilts, have been fishing and diving for pearls for generations. They spend almost all their time either in the water or in boats.

Bajau tribe
Bajau tribe

After studying the DNA of several dozen people, it was found that, first of all, the Bajau had mutations that increased the size of the spleen by about 50%.

This organ is a reservoir for red blood cells, which carry oxygen. When diving and holding air, the organ releases additional cells, into the blood, thereby increasing oxygenation. The same mechanism is used, for example, by harbor seals.

Bajau tribe can stay up to 10 minutes under the water
Bajau tribe can stay up to 10 minutes under the water. ©David Health

Another mutation is the accelerated metabolism due to the necessary rapid outflow of blood from the limbs to the vital organs. And finally, the third mutation reduced the rate of carbon dioxide formation in the blood.

People of the Bajau tribe
People of the Bajau tribe. ©David Health

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