Homo sapiens are truly remarkable creatures. The most intelligent and advanced species on planet earth has ruled its domain for thousands and thousands of years, and is capable of outstanding feats of adaptation.
There is no more astonishing example of this ability to adapt than that which distinguishes the inhabitants of the delightful coastal hamlet of Clovelly in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, on the vast southern continent of Terra Australis.
For it is here that certain human beings have evolved in such a way as to avoid drowning between the months of May and September.
Clovelianos are as susceptible to drowning as any human being who enters the inviting waters of their beloved bay during the remaining months of the year, but are miraculously immune to drowning as soon as the calendar lands on May 1st.
The world’s leading scientists, naturalists and marine experts remain baffled by this recently-discovered phenomenon, and have so far uncovered only one significant clue. When the mighty Southern Ocean unleashes its frigid fury on Australia’s eastern coastline, scientists have observed the absence of Salvavida Cloveliana, a human sub-species known locally as Lifeguards.
Identifiable by their unusually toned and tanned hide, their aqua blue plumage and propensity to strut ostentatiously in the presence of the opposite sex, Salvavida Cloveliana are inexplicably absent between May and September. This fact alone has convinced international experts that Clovelianos have adapted to avoid drowning regardless of conditions inside the bay during the southern hemisphere winter.
The automatic ability to transform in the absence of Salvavida Cloveliana has prompted myriad scientific hypotheses. One school of experts is convinced that Clovelianos are innately more resilient than others of their kind, while an opposing school proposes that the inhabitants who brave the icy waters somehow adopt features of the achoerodus viridis, or Clovelly blue groper, as soon as water temperatures drop.
Further theories ponder whether neighbouring species remain buoyant through the use of specialised planks and a neoprene skin, while some evolutionary experts have even suggested that Clovelianos subconsciously add blubber to avoid drowning, and begin this gradual process as early as the preceding Christmas Day.
So unique is the Cloveliano, that just a few kilometres north and south of the bay, this rare species is nowhere to be found. For on the shores of Coogee and Bronte, Salvavida Coogeiana and Salvavida Brontecita are a constant presence in their elevated nests. During painstaking studies amid the wintery wind and rain, scientists have also noted the year-long presence of Salvavida Bondina and Brassiera on surrounding beaches, and cite this as further proof that it is only the Cloveliano that has developed the ability to avoid drowning during the winter months.
First published in The Beast magazine, May 2023