Press Esc to close

Dolphins decompress like humans

Last updated: 15 October, 2011
London, Oct 15 (PTI) 16:36 IST

Researchers have confirmed what many biologists have long suspected -- dolphins avoid the bends by taking long, shallow decompression dives after feeding at depth.

A team, led by Michael Moore at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, has based its findings on tiny bubbles which it has found beneath the blubber of dolphins that beached themselves, the 'Proceedings of the Royal Society B' reported.

The bubbles were discovered by taking ultrasound scans of the animals within minutes of stranding off Cape Cod in the US.

Many biologists believe that marine mammals do not struggle, as human divers do, with decompression sickness -- "the bends" -- when ascending from great depths.

In humans, breathing air at the comparatively high pressures delivered by scuba equipment causes more nitrogen to be absorbed into the blood and the body's tissues, and this nitrogen comes back out as divers ascend.

But marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, and seals are highly adept at dealing with the pressures of the deep.

They slow their hearts, collapse the tiny air-filled chambers in their lungs, and channel blood to essential organs -- like the brain -- to conserve oxygen, and limit the build- up of nitrogen bubbles in the blood that happens at depth.

However, Moore thinks it is "naive" to think that diving mammals do not also struggle with these laws of chemistry.

If dolphins, he explained, come up too quickly then there is evidence that they "grab another gulp of air and go back down again", in much the same way a human diver would "re-tank and re-ascend" to try to prevent the bends.

"But there's one place you can't do that (if you are a dolphin) and that's sitting on the beach," he was quoted by the 'BBC' as saying.

Go to Top

More from this section
Most trending stories
Photo Gallery
Bronze medalist in the women's 4 x 5km relay cross-country skiing the team from Russia...

Bronze medalist in the women's 4 x 5km relay cross-country skiing the team from Russia...

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with his son Hadrien, 3, feeds an elephant during...

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with his son Hadrien, 3, feeds an elephant during...

Bollywood actress and dancer Smilie Suri during the Pole Dance practice...

Bollywood actress and dancer Smilie Suri during the Pole Dance practice...

A child plays with soap bubbles at the Surajkund Mela in...

A child plays with soap bubbles at the Surajkund Mela in...

Potters sell their items at the Surajkund Mela in...

Potters sell their items at the Surajkund Mela in...

People in costumes join a parade to mark Chinese new year, the Year of the Dog...

People in costumes join a parade to mark Chinese new year, the Year of the Dog...

Protesters stand near billboards placed by the pressure group Occupy Justice...

Protesters stand near billboards placed by the pressure group Occupy Justice...

Actress Tamannaah Bhatia during a promotional event...

Actress Tamannaah Bhatia during a promotional event...

Girls take selfie near a classic car at the 8th edition of the 21 Gun Salute...

Girls take selfie near a classic car at the 8th edition of the 21 Gun Salute...

A man feeds langurs at Khandagiri in...

A man feeds langurs at Khandagiri in...

Like us on Facebook

Copyright 2017, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523
Powered by Yodasoft Technologies Pvt. Ltd.