To interrupt the document for longest dive by a marine mammal, take a deep breath and bounce within the water. Then don’t breathe in once more for nearly 4 hours.

Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) are grasp divers. These creatures maintain the document for deepest plunge by a marine mammal. One whale dived to depths of almost 3,000 meters (nearly 1.9 miles). This species additionally holds the document for the longest dives. In 2014, scientists documented one dive that lasted simply over two hours. That whale stayed underwater for 137.5 minutes, setting a record.

One other Cuvier’s beaked whale has now shattered that document. It went 222 minutes, or three hours and 42 minutes, with out arising for air. Researchers reported this September 23 within the Journal of Experimental Biology

To final so lengthy underwater, the mammals might depend on massive shops of oxygen and a gradual metabolism. As soon as oxygen runs out, the animals might have the flexibility to tolerate a buildup of lactic acid of their muscular tissues because of anaerobic (An-eh-ROH-bik) respiration. It is a technique of producing vitality that doesn’t depend on oxygen.

“These guys blow our expectations,” says Nicola Fast. She research animal conduct at Duke College Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C.

To higher perceive how the whales handle such lengthy dives, the scientists seemed to seals. Additionally marine mammals, seals can spend a very long time underwater, too. Researchers have studied the diving habits of seals in the past. They’ll use that information to study different animals. The researchers did some math based mostly on a seal’s oxygen shops and diving closing dates. That hinted that underwater whales ought to run out of oxygen after solely about half an hour.

Fast’s crew then analyzed 3,680 dives by 23 whales. Seals can exceed their restrict about 5 p.c of the time. The crew assumed that was true for Cuvier’s beaked whales, too. Whereas most whale dives lasted round an hour, 5 p.c exceeded about 78 minutes. That implies that switching to anaerobic respiration takes greater than twice as lengthy for whales as had been thought.

The researchers anticipated to seek out that the whales spend extra time on the floor recovering after lengthy dives. Nonetheless, the brand new crew noticed no clear sample. “We all know little or no about [the whales] in any respect,” Fast says, “which is fascinating and irritating directly.”

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