These Kids Can Actually See Clearly In A Deep Sea

There are children, in the island archipelago of Andaman sea and along the west coast of Thailand, who can see underwater in the deep sea as clear as Dophins. They come from Moken tribe, also known as sea nomads. They deep dive in the sea in search of food.

Image Credit: BBC Future
Image Credit: BBC Future

It all sounds unbelievable, but researchers have found that with a little amount of training this unique vision can be imparted to young people. In 1999, Sweeden’s Lund Unuversity researcher Anna Gilsen decided to study the unique aspects of vision.

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Her observations were surprising. She found that with their eyes wide open they can fish for shells and sea cucumbers. They have no problem doing this.

She set up an experiment to test this ability. It was possible only when one refracts light that enters the eye onto retina. When the eye is immersed in water, which has forty times more density to that of the cornea. She found that with little adaptation, their eyes have actually started working in a fundamentally different way. It became clear from a simple eye test.

Image: Moken tribe kids
Image: Moken tribe kids

“We had to make a mathematical calculation to work out how much the lens was accommodating in order for them to see as far as they could,” says Gislen.

“Normally when you go underwater, everything is so blurry that the eye doesn’t even try to accommodate, it’s not a normal reflex,” says Gislen. “But the Moken children are able to do both – they can make their pupils smaller and change their lens shape. Seals and dolphins have a similar adaptation.”

Normally a human they would have irritation in eyes in a salty sea water. However, this was notan issue for Moken children. In similar circumstances, the eyes of

European children became red. The homes of these Moken tribe have been devastated in the 2004 tsunami and they lost their homes.

Government tried to rehabilitate them by providing safe homes. However, they are losing their own culture and this unique ability in in modern influence.

Unfortunately, the children in Gislen’s experiments may be the last of the tribe to possess the ability to see so clearly underwater. “They just don’t spend as much time in the sea anymore,” she says, “so I doubt that any of the children that grow up these days in the tribe have this extraordinary vision.” It was also found that with a little amount of training even European kids were able to see as clear as these Moken tribe people.

(Source: We are indebted to BBC Future for this fantastic story.)


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An active journalist and blogger with more than a decade of experience. He has worked with various national and international publications. Sharing behind the curtain news is his passion.

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