Body & Ocean Relationship
For decades, scientists have been studying the relationship between our bodies and the ocean. On the surface, the composition of our blood is similar to that of sea water. Let’s look at this a bit closer. Both have salts – sodium, chlorine, magnesium, sulfide, calcium and potassium. But, the concentration of salts in sea water is much higher than it is in blood – about 3 times as high. However, when seawater is diluted, (known as isotonic seawater), the concentrations are remarkably similar to blood. We wanted to know how this came about and in doing so, we ran across the work of Rene Quinton. His memorable work can be summed up in this quote: “The living organism is a sea aquarium in which a few billion cells are bathing.” But, here’s a bit more about this most interesting man.
Rene Quinton (1866-1925), sometimes called the French Darwin, was a renowned scientist, biologist, and aviator in the early part of the last century. He studied the temperature and salt concentrations in different species. The story of Quinton and his dog are well known, albeit a bit unsettling at first. After much study, Quinton concluded that seawater was similar in composition to human blood. He presented this to his colleagues and to his dismay, his findings were widely dismissed. So, as the story goes, he performed an experiment in front of an audience of his peers at the College de France. Quinton carefully replaces the dog’s blood with diluted salt water. The dog remained alive and a week later, had fully recovered.
On hearing this story, we were at first skeptical, thinking it had gained drama with the passage to time, but with a fair amount of research, we found consistency across a variety of resources. In Quinton’s own words, found in his book titled L’eau de Mer, Milieu Organique, (translated it means Sea Water, Organic Matrix), and in other firsthand accounts written by scientists present during the experiments, we found amazing details of these experiments. Quinton and his team were doing ground breaking work at the time, and we were happy to read that and their treatment of the animal they worked with was with care and kindness. One witness reported 5 years later that the dog, named Sodium, was alive and well.
If you’d like to read the full story for yourself, including English translations of Quinton’s notes and witnesses at this remarkable website: Ocean Plasma, click “enter” and then on Rene Quinton under the Pioneers of Seawater heading.
We found ourselves referring often to the site, which is actually called Ocean Health. It is a wonderful resource of information about the ocean and we recommend you visit for more information. It is an academic site but written in a manner that any of us can understand. The site does have a commercial cousin but it is entirely separate in nature. Be sure and check their Credits tab under the About Us button for even more resources of information.
One last word about the ocean-human body relationship. We found ourselves unexpectedly running across arguments about evolution and creationism, with a number of sites arguing against this research, even one taking issue with the humorous video below. We aren’t getting into the arguments for and against, but we do like the video. So, we’ll end with this light look at a heavy topic: