Our fathers taught us to dive, and we are now teaching our sons. We show them that the cold gives energy, and boosts the immune system. This is one of the great secrets and paradoxes of diving through the kelp forests. Without the “protection” of a wetsuit, our porous skin easily absorbs the rich nutrient feast that drifts through these forests and into our blood stream.
Why do we feel so amazing after even a short swim? As soon as we get into cold water there is an immediate decrease in heart rate up to 25%. In fact, you only need to submerge your face in water to activate these reflexes. Per Scholander, the Swedish researcher who discovered many of these mammalian dive reflexes, went so far as to call this transformation in water the “Master Switch of Life”.
We’re are born of the ocean. Each of us begins life floating in amniotic fluid that holds a 99% similar chemical composition to seawater. Our earliest characteristics are fishlike. The month-old embryo grows fins first, not feet; it is one misfiring gene away from developing fins instead of hands. At the fifth week of a fetus’s development, its heart has two chambers, a characteristic shared by fish. Human blood has a chemical composition 98% similar to seawater. An infant will reflexively breaststroke when placed underwater and can comfortably hold his breath for about 40 seconds, longer than many adults. We lose this ability only when we learn how to walk. James Nestor, author of Deep.