Islanders have evolved to consume seawater | The Gerbil

By Heater Ball-Ding

A recent scientific study concluded that people living in San Juan County are evolving in a very interesting manner, according to the county’s department of health researcher Bill Waterson.

“The normal human kidney can not filter all the salt out of seawater,” Waterson said. “Which is why most people can’t drink it. It ends up dehydrating you. People in San Juan County though, are showing a high tolerance.”

He went on to explain that one out of three islanders appear to be able to process seawater with the same effectiveness as fresh water.

According to Waterson, there are many theories why this may be occurring. Part of it may stem from saltwater intrusion, he says, “Some may have been drinking seawater without even realizing it. Since they began consuming small doses leaked into freash water that became increasingly stronger, their bodies may have adapted.”

He believes the adaptation is mostly beneficial, “This community has a far better chance surviving a drought. With temperatures getting increasing due to global warming, county residence are in a better position.”

On that note, Waterson and his colleagues are continuing their research hoping to learning more about this adaptation. Their studies’ results could help future generations worldwide, as temperatures climb, and water becomes an increasingly valuable resource, Waterson said. Regardless of what they find, he continued, “Salt water intrusion and global warming are serious issues. No one should go around wasting water due to this apparent evolution.”

The first question Waterson says his team are tackling is where this new evolutionary trait came from.

“I mean, it’s like islanders are evolving to return to the sea, like seals and whales. If that is true, in a few generations, children will be born with fins and flippers rather than arms and legs!” Waterson said scratching his head.