Do Ice Swimmers Have Bigger Brains?

Do Ice Swimmers Have Bigger Brains?

Researchers found that the brains of newborn seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) are large when they are born. The baby seal’s brain size is relatively large compared with adult seals and, remarkably 70% the size of adult brains.

What is remarkable about these seals are that they are the only mammal that swims long distances under the sea ice, holding their breath for up to 20 kilometers until they pop up in breaks in the Antarctic ice. Their big brains help them navigate these marathon distances in the icy cold waters at the bottom of the Earth.

So we thought, are there any implications of brain size and the ability to swim in cold waters among humans?

Does that imply that human ice swimmers also have larger-than-average brains? Do their brains enable them to go long distances in extremely cold waters? There are some sharp cookies among the ice swimming crowd, so perhaps they are born with large(r) brains?

Photo shows Henri Kaarma, a renowned ice swimmer from Estonia.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones