Thursday, June 2, 2011

Matt the Aquatic Ape

"All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea-whether it is to sail or to watch it-we are going back from whence we came."
JFK 1962

"Only a Surfer knows the feeling"
-A popular slogan on Billabong's T-shirts

I have been reading recently that many biologists and anthropologists increasingly believe in something know as the aquatic-ape theory. They believe that our ancestors, unlike other primates, had to wade and swim in order to survive. The theory is that this is why we have hooded noses, which enables us to dive deep, and a lowered larynx, which allows us to hold our breath. We have nearly hairless bodies to reduce friction while swimming and we cannot live without a few key nutrients found in the oceans. I have often been fascinated as to why I always feel better (mentally and physically) after I immerse myself in the ocean. In fact surfers have a term they use for going out even if the waves are small: they say, "I just want to get wet." And everyone that surfs understands that feeling. People say that swimming is the perfect exercise for your body as it works all of your major muscles and does zero damage to your joints. Is there something inherent in our DNA that releases a feeling of peace and joy when we see the ocean? I would have to say yes. When I was in Nicaragua a local guy asked me why I like surfing so much that I would pay money to leave the U.S. (with McDonald's, electricity and Starbucks) to come to a poverty stricken area ( with pigs, blackouts and no coffee). I tried to tell him about the allure of the ocean and ridding empty waves but something was lost in translation. If you look at all of the major sports what do guys give up their entire life for? I only have three answers:

1. Surfing
2. Rock climbing/Mountaineering
3. Skiing/Snowboarding

I have never heard of a guy rearranging his entire life to play more basketball or shoot pool. So we have three major sports that have nature at its core and all get you outside and interacting with nature. When we face challenges in nature, say surfing a big wave or climbing a mountain, our primal DNA (our aquatic-ape) is cheering us on because we are showing survival skills and will thus continue the existence of the species. Americans are so obese because sitting in a cubicle and yakking on a cell phone, only to than come home for TV and computer games, does nothing but make our aquatic-ape very sad. I say embrace your inner ape, go surfing, go sailing, go body surf, go swim, go boogie board, go dive, go SUP, just go and make your inner aquatic-ape happy!


  1. What would you tell the poor guy reading your blog in North Dakota?

  2. Right on! Best blog of the year. Hey dog, you're in it to win it!

  3. Garrett-
    I would tell the guy to move