June 17, 2021

A Cuvier’s whale breaks records with a nearly four hour dive

A whale jumping out of the water.

Cuvier’s beaked whale is a whale of small size that, according to the calculations of experts, could not be submerged for more than half an hour, however, a study with the participation of the Oceanogràfic Foundation of Valencia, documented a three hour 42 minute dive.

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, highlights this time as an immersion record for these animals, which can reach depths of almost 3,000 meters and that they should only stay submerged for about 33 minutes before they run out of oxygen.

Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) is a difficult animal to see because they spend little time on the surface, an average of two minutes, which makes it difficult to mark them for monitoring, which was carried out in waters of the Cape Hatteras, in the United States.

Short periods on the surface also limited the time available to transfer information to a satellite each time the animals returned from a dive, the Company of Biologist said in a statement.

For five years the team recorded more than 3,600 dives of these cetaceans in search of food, the duration of which ranged from 33 minutes to 2 hours and 13 minutes, all of them well above the limit at which they were thought to be without oxygen.

“We were really surprised that these animals are able to go as far, beyond what the predictions suggest that should be their diving limits, “said one of the signatories of the study Nicola Quick, from Duke University (USA). But Cuvier’s beaked whales had other surprises in store, as the team recorded a dive that lasted almost three hours and another of 3 hours and 42 minutes,

Quick pointed out that, at first, they couldn’t believe it, since these animals are mammals and “It would seem incredible for any mammal to spend so much time under water. “

Quick and another of the signatories Andreas Fahlman, from the Oceanogràfic Foundation of Valencia, consider that these animals may have an exceptionally low metabolism, oxygen reserves “greater than usual” and the ability to withstand the accumulation of stinging lactic acid in their muscles when dives exceed 77 minutes.


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