A Blacktip Island handyman and amateur scientist claims to have developed the world’s first artificial gills to allow humans to breathe underwater. (photo courtesy of Krishna Satya)
A Blacktip Island amateur scientist this week announced he has developed artificial gills, which can be implanted in humans to allow people to spend extended periods of time underwater without relying on scuba equipment.
“Divers talk all the time about wanting to stay underwater longer,” Harry Bottoms said. “I started playing with the idea and came up with implanting gills in peoples’ necks so they could spend all the time they want to in the sea.
“They look kinda like those things Kevin Costner had in Waterworld, only bigger,” Bottoms said. “And since you’re not breathing compressed air, you can be underwater for hours without getting decompression sickness. They worked great in simulations in the garage.”
Some in the community were skeptical of Bottom’s claims.
“It’s a great idea, if Harry actually pulls it off,” Nelson Seagroves said. “But there’s been no demonstration the things even work, much less if he can transplant them into a person. I’m holding off judgement until after the trials, but I can’t imagine them being successful.”
Others were outright dismissive.
“There’s not a chance Harry’s contraptions will ever work,” Tiperon University-Blacktip biology professor Ernesto Mojarra said. “Never mind implanting . . . whatever he’s cobbled together . . . would be an incredibly invasive medical procedure. Harry needs to stick to fixing air conditioners. If they surgery doesn’t kill you, drowning will.”
Dive professionals, meanwhile, were concerned about the impact the gills could have on the scuba industry.
“The problem with these things is, if they work, they’ll kill the recreational scuba diving business,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “People won’t need scuba tanks or regulators. They won’t need dive boats or divemasters—they’ll be able to just jump in the water and go. I wish Harry all the best, but I hope his gizmos are a complete failure.”
Bottoms rebuffed the criticism.
“Sure, there’s some surgery involved, and you’ll have to go to the hospital to have the gills implanted,” he said. “But we’re working on a simplified outpatient procedure the nurse can do at the island clinic. “And the scuba folks should have more faith in their product,” Bottoms said. “This is an opportunity for them to reinvent their industry. Folks’ll always want to take a boat out to dive sites they can’t easily get to from shore, and to socialize with other people while they do it. Where there’s a gill, there’s a way.”