How long can you hold your breath? 45 seconds? A minute? How about five?

Meet Sulbin. He's a member of the Bajau people of South-East Asia. Also known as "the sea gypsies of Malaysia and Indonesia, " the Bajau are basically real-life versions of Aquaman; according to BBC's Megan Lane, "[The Bajau people] are born, live and die at sea, and fish by diving 20m (more than 65ft) underwater for minutes at a time on one breath."


In this clip from BBC's Human Planet, Sulbin dives over 20 meters beneath the water's surface to hunt fish on the ocean floor. Never mind the fact that Sulbin is exerting energy that depletes his oxygen stores more rapidly than if he were, say, at a computer reading about a deep-sea free-diver. Never mind the fact that the water pressure at a depth of 20 meters is three times that of the pressure at the surface, squeezing his already oxygen-deprived lungs. Let's just see if you can match Sulbin's one, 150-second breath.

Could you do it? Excellent. Now try it again, only this time hold it for five minutes — the length of time Sulbin claims to be able to hold his breath while hunting underwater. Oh, and while you're at it, make sure you pick up smoking. According to Tom Hugh-Jones, director of Human Planet, "anyone who thinks this is an example of what a non-smoker's lungs can do will be disappointed...Sulbin smokes like a chimney. He says it relaxes his chest."


You can read more about the Bajau people and how they've adapted to life underwater over at BBC News.

[Spotted on Pharyngula]

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