Can You Really See Underwater?

by Catalin Andries on September 23, 2019

Have you ever been on a deep dive, a wonderful out-of-this-world snorkel, or just a glorious swim in which you’ve really wanted to just ditch all your gear and be one with nature? As much as we’d love to be able to, humans just haven’t evolved to be able to enjoy the marvels of underwater scenery without fancy equipment.

Sure, we could go in without wetsuits but it would be cold and our skin would shrivel up after a while. We could jump in without goggles, but what good is blurry vision when there’s so much amazing coral life to enjoy? In fact, can we really see underwater? What’s happening when we open our eyes underwater, and why is everything so blurry? Could we possibly evolve to be able to see clearly underwater?

These are some questions we’ve been thinking about for awhile at Ninja Shark. We thought we’d share some of our research with you, because who hasn’t wanted to ditch the goggles and be a proper mermaid at least once in their life?

Why do we see blurry underwater?

First thing’s first, why can we see perfectly fine out of water, then vision gets all cloudy and blurry when we open our eyes underwater? Basically, science. Our ancestors didn’t really enjoy long underwater swims that much, and spent most of their time on land. For that reason, our eyes have adapted to view the best in air rather than water. How exactly so? Get ready for a huge science lesson.

When light rays travel from one medium to another, they bend. The amount of bending that they do depends on the ‘refractive indices’ of the two mediums. The greater the difference in the refractive indices of the mediums, the more that light bends as it moves from one medium to the other.

Air has a refractive index of about 1, while our cornea has a refractive index of around 1.33333. Because of the difference in the refractive index of our eyes and air, light is able to bend before it enters the eye, pre-focusing the image before it reaches our lens. This is why we’re able to focus our eyes so clearly.

Water, however, has a much more similar refractive index to our cornea, also sitting around 1.3333. That means that light doesn’t have enough time to bend before it reaches our eyes, providing a more distorted vision. It’s quite similar to setting up a projector too close to the wall, where there’s not enough space for the image to focus.

Why do we see blurry underwater?

Here’s where it gets interesting. You could take all this information for gospel and subject yourself to a lifetime of wearing goggles and being unable to properly focus underwater. Or, you could take this incredible example of human evolution to be some inspiration that one day you, too, will be able to see underwater.

Younger generations of the Moken Tribe in Thailand are apparently able to ‘see like dolphins underwater’. The Moken is a small tribe that only needs simple tools like nets and spears for fishing in order to live. They dive for their food, able to go down as deep as 22 metres to catch a day’s dinner. And children of the tribe have been blessed with crystal clear underwater vision. Scientists aren’t exactly sure whether the children of the Moken tribe are able to see underwater due to genetic evolution or learning.

Can we be trained to see underwater?

To find out whether underwater vision could be learned, Anna Gislen from the University of Lund in Sweden carried out some research. She trained a group of European children for 11 sessions in Thailand, helping them develop underwater vision. After a month, the European kids saw significant improvement in their underwater vision, with their eyesight as acute as that of the Moken children.

That said, the European children all experienced red, irritated eyes due to the saltwater, while the Moken children experienced no ill-effects from the saltwater at all. This is where scientists are thinking that it’s likely the Moken children have developed something in their eyes to protect them from the salt. So we’d say that you could definitely improve your underwater vision and make it more accurate, but it might not be entirely pleasant for your eyes.

We’ll stick to the goggles for now

While the promise of crystal clear underwater vision sure sounds alluring, we think we’ll stick to the goggles here at Ninja Shark. Maybe we’ll take them off every now and then to practice our underwater vision, but the promise of red and irritated eyes hasn’t got us too excited.

What do you think? Will you try to train your eyes to have underwater vision like the Moken children?


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Based on 1494 reviews
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Package : Air Adults (Mask + Fins + Bag)
JEANNIE O. (Piara Waters, AU)
Bloody love this!

Never snorkelled in my life. Petrified of putting my head under water. But now my neck is bad - if I don't alter the way I swim - then no more swimming for me. This has opened 'a whole new world' - (haha -that songs stuck in your head now) - to me. I'm just using my ninja gear in my gym outdoor pool atm. My legs are getting so strong - and my lungs too - as I'm doing some great breathing. I have huge surgery coming up soon - and i believe this is allowing me to get to a great level of fitness - in preparation. Honestly - i can't go on enough about this product enough. My friend bought a cheaper version. She's given it away already... say no more 🤿🤿🤿

B
Electra - Full Face Snorkel Mask
Bolang C. (Perth, AU)
Great design

This is the best snorkel mask I’ve ever had. Very comfortable on face, easy to breathe. I am not a good swimmer, it makes me feel safe and enjoy snorkelling without distraction. Thank you ninjiashark.

Best snorkel ever!!

Got one of these for me and my 7 year old daughter for Xmas. We’ve used them twice already and love them!! So much easier to breathe, can see so much and just makes the whole snorkelling experience better! Would highly recommend!

Clear as day

Clear to see and easy to breathe,
Whole family loves the NinjaShark Snorkel mask.

R
Lifetime Warranty
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Amazing

The best snorkel and mask combination. No going back now! I could snorkel for over an hour easily. So glad I made this purchase

M
(DRAFT) Package: Dry Snorkel (Set + Fins + Bag)
Mermaid M. (Townsville, AU)
Mermaid

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I was a little bit anxious on receiving my order as the mask was quite different to my old one and the fins were short and adjustable ( l wanted them to be my size ! ) well to my luck the weather was beautiful ( yes mid winter in Mackay ) and perfect for boating so off we scooted to Cockermouth ( don't laugh it's a real place ) jumping in and WOW I'm now a mermaid 🧜‍♀️ the mask and fins felt like part of me. I actually cried as not only was the equipment allowing me to explore as l wanted but the reef was STUNNING. So lm indepted to Ninja Shark for making me the mermaid l always aspired to be 🧜‍♀️

Took it to Tahiti

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Life changing

I do love my full face snorkel.. the freedom of nose breathing under the water.. the meditative and relaxative effect of this snorkeling is unexpected and great. Fits so well.. comfy to wear for long time.. highly recommend

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(DRAFT) Diving Dry Snorkel Set with GoPro mount
jomm11 (Brisbane, AU)
Super quality & fit

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Flippers, mask, dry wallet, carry bag (good quality bag), anti fog spray, happy days.

Ninja Shark Kids Mask

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I saw the kids full face snorkel masks online, and thought they looked pretty cool. I ordered two for Christmas, for my 3 and 6 year olds. Wow, did they have a great time with them!

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Highly recommend this product :)

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Electra - Full Face Snorkel Mask
Nick J. (Brisbane, AU)
mask swimming

The mask did exactly what was stated. I was very happy and will get another mask for my daughter.

S
Electra - Full Face Snorkel Mask
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Fabulous

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S
Lifetime Warranty
Sarah B. (Surfers Paradise, AU)
Love it!

Amazing product ! Have the electra package, kids love it. So easy to use. Highly recommend

J
(DRAFT) Diving Dry Snorkel Set with GoPro mount
Jennifer M. (Brisbane, AU)
Love it

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The photo is us snorkelling off Amadee Island looking for turtles!

My kids love them

I’ve got three of these masks for my younger kids, however the oldest wants one too as the young ones rave about how good the are.

Summer Family Fun

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Lifetime Warranty
Geri D. (Sydney, AU)
Lifetime warranty

Glad I have but haven’t needed to use .. yet

Great Mask

Love this mask. Kids find it so much easier snorkelling with the Ninja Shark. The snorkel mask is super clear and doesn’t fog up. The adjustable straps are great and easy to loosen and tighten. Very happy that we made the decision to get these for the kids.

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awsome

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Lifetime Warranty
Lina J. (Gold Coast, AU)
life warranty

This is great! More stores should do it!

O
Lifetime Warranty
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Fantastic snorkel!

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