such as "Introduction", "Conclusion"..etc
Ciguatera poisoning, the food-borne disease that can come from eating
large, carnivorous reef fish, causes vomiting, headaches, and a burning
sensation upon contact with cold surfaces. An early morning walk on
cool beach sand can become a painful stroll on fiery coals to a
ciguatera victim. But is this common toxin poisoning also the key to a
larger mystery? That is, the storied migrations of the Polynesian
natives who colonized New Zealand, Easter Island and, possibly, Hawaii
in the 11th to 15th centuries? Could ciguatera be the reason masses of
people left paradise?
Teina Rongo, a Cook Island Maori from Rarotonga and a Ph.D. student
at the Florida Institute of Technology, and his faculty advisers
Professors Robert van Woesik and Mark Bush, propose this intriguing
theory in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Biogeography.
Based on archeological evidence, paleoclimatic data and modern reports
of ciguatera poisoning, they theorize that ciguatera outbreaks were
linked to climate and that the consequent outbreaks prompted historical
migrations of Polynesians.
Why would historic populations of Cook Islanders take the chance of
voyaging? A journey beyond the horizon was risky and favorable
landfalls were uncertain. It is known that this population was heavily
reliant on fish as a source of protein, and the scientists suggest that
once their fish resources became inedible, voyaging became a necessity.
Modern Cook Islanders, though surrounded by an ocean teeming with
fish, don't eat fish as a regular part of their diet but instead eat
processed, imported foods. In the late 1990s, lower-income families who
could not afford processed foods emigrated to New Zealand and
Australia. The researchers suggest that past migrations had similar
roots. The heightened voyaging from A.D. 1000 to 1450 in eastern
Polynesia was likely prompted by ciguatera fish poisoning. There were
few options but to leave once the staple diet of an island nation
"Our approach brings us a step closer to solving the mysteries of
ciguatera and the storied Polynesian native migrations. We hope it will
lead to better forecasting and planning for ciguatera outbreaks" says
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