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Hold your breath

By seeing ourselves compared to our closest relatives in nature, our differences point towards a life spent in and by the oceans; where 94% of life on earth exists. Diving gave us abundance, and seems to have been the first step towards mankind.
image descriptionHook and Ngui:
Submersible men
return to main pagereturn to the topthe voyage CONTINUES
image descriptionHarpoon:
less is more


Born to dive

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Survival of the amphibiest

Moken children never tire from playing in the water, and spend most of their days in the lagoons. By the time they reach adolescence they have become master free-divers, even without the use of modern snorkeling equipment.

This ability is soon utilized to feed their families. Mainly the young men conduct harpoon hunting, but girls do join in until they have children. Many of the elders never loose their touch, and can still give the young ones quite some competition.

Aquatic adaptation

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When diving, the Moken can hold their breath for what seems an eternity. Through generations of hunting and gathering from the sea, they have developed unique reflexes and special skills.
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One of the most remarkable skills inherit in the Moken is their unique ability to focus under water without a mask. As opposed to the rest of us, the Moken’s iris contracts when diving, which in turn sharpens their vision even though the light fades. Research has been done on this remarkable phenomenon, leading to a debate about whether this is a genetic trait or a suppressed reflex that we still carry from the time of our adaptation to semi-aquatic life along the shores.

What we do know stems from this period is our downward-facing nostrils (so water doesn’t seep in), excess skin between our fingers (for increased acceleration through the water), hair only on the part that needs protection (when up from the surface), and the fact that our spleen produces an increased amount of red bloodcells to transport oxygen in our bodies when we make a habit of holding our breath. The Moken experience this excelled production of bloodcells instantly when entering the water.
image descriptionBelow the Bamboo Island


As natural divers the Moken are often exploited by the industrial fishing industry; forced to breathe compressed air so they can stay longer on the seabed to harvest from dynamite fishing. Many die or suffer from permanent injury and disability derived from decompression sickness (the bends).

image descriptionThe Bends

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Breathe. Then take action.

Dive Moken
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Be a free-diver! Hold your breath along with a Moken!

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