Why do mammals lower their heart rate during diving?

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Elbert Weissnat asked a question: Why do mammals lower their heart rate during diving?
Asked By: Elbert Weissnat
Date created: Fri, Aug 20, 2021 2:43 PM
Date updated: Mon, Jul 25, 2022 3:55 PM

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Why is it difficult to dive with marine mammals?

  • For diving marine mammals, this presents two problems. First, air is buoyant, making diving difficult. Second, as was mentioned above, air is easily compressed, leading to a potential collapse of the lungs. Most marine mammals have lungs that are able to collapse and re-inflate easily.
  • The answer is that they store oxygen in their blood, and in their muscles rather than in their lungs. Marine mammals have a very high blood to body volume ratio. The mammalian diving reflex allows mammals to lower their heart rate and ultimately survive submersion in water for extended periods of time.

This reduction happens in all #mammals when they hold their breath when #diving and has been thought to be a reflex controlled by the brain. This decrease in the heart rate is known as the #diveresponse, which is thought to conserve oxygen during the dive.

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