Seeking out waterbodies is built into our DNA. They bring us joy, calm, fascination, and memories. My favourite moments are spent by the water. Like watching waves crash and slither back with the tides. Feeling the force of a river push back on my fingertips as I dip them in the water. Treading water in a lake until my legs get sore and tired.
Water is beautiful, water is precious, and water is life. Without water, humans can only survive two days to a week. We need water to survive, so of course we inherently like it. But that fact alone doesn’t explain our fascination with coastlines, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. About 90% of all people live near a body of freshwater. While the need for something to drink is clearly a leading reason for our proximity to freshwater, there’s something else at play.
Spending time by water has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, to make people feel happier, and to improve health.
How can water have such a strong power over us?
There are lots of different theories as to why people are drawn to H2O. Potentially, we feel a strong kinship to water as it’s our home. Water is the reason life exists and the location where all life on Earth originated billions of years ago. Therefore, returning to water is comparable to returning home. Much like the joy of coming home after being away for a long time, we experience happiness and health when we return to the water.
Another reason could be the benefits that our ancestors profited from when their lives were heavily tied to waters. It’s hypothesized that our big brains were able to grow due to our heavy reliance on omega-3 rich seafood. During human evolution fish, crabs, and molluscs provided human ancestors with exponential brain growth, enabling us to thrive.
Regardless of the reasons, we are forever bonded to water. By our desire to swim, skate, paddle, and spend time near water. By the need to drink water to live healthily. By the benefits that fish have provided us with as we have evolved and continue to evolve. Swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters are a part of who we are, and absolutely essential to protect for our future.