Continuing from this discussion: Why might it be desirable to engineer aquatic humans? In a society in which humans have been bio-engineered for a partially marine lifestyle (I mentioned otters and seals in the description, but penguins and freshwater turtles occupy a similar niche), what adaptations would be most helpful for this? Let's assume that these people are living on a planet which is Earthlike except for a higher sea-to-land ratio.

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    $\begingroup$ Uh... none? Aside from "shriveled" skin (which is really only a cosmetic "issue"), present humans do just fine with occasional dips in fresh water. Are you asking specifically about being partially oceanic? Or about adaptations that would be useful but not necessary? $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ "Specifically oceanic" is what I was intending to ask here. $\endgroup$
    – Karst
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ Do they still need to be able to walk upright on land? (Thinking about childbirth here). $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 21:29
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    $\begingroup$ Adaptations: necessary or desired? The only necessary adaptation that I see is extra thermal insulation (otherwise human can stay in the water without getting hypothermia only in warm tropical waters). The list of desired adaptations is quite long. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 21:51
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    $\begingroup$ You might wanna specify exactly how much of their time is spent on water and why exactly boats aren't an option while bioengineering is, but if you really want something that is not terrible on land yet highly adapted to aquatic environments, you might wanna search on the adaptations California sea lions have evolved. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 23:19

1 Answer 1


There are a number of evolutionary treats that would make humans more better suited for aquatic life. Some ideas are:

  1. Losing all hair (or most of it) and developing a smooth body would make them more aqua dynamic and that would make them faster for escaping predators and "hunting" under water.
  2. More hemoglobin in the blood, this is actually what allow seals to last longer under water that and myoglobin that is a very similar cell that lives on the muscles. Those two cells allow for a more efficient oxygen management in the body, so in turn there is no need for bigger lungs.
  3. Echolocation, like whales. Since you are engineering them you could make this possible. Visibility under water is very limited so echolocation would be a big advantage.
  4. Membranes in hands and or feet, this a classic i don't think i need to explain it.

Some more wild ideas are that you could even give them gills so they can breath and with them a sense of smell like the sharks. You could make possible for them to produce their own light or even electricity inside their bodies.


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