Show Details

Deep Diving Whales

April 8, 2014

Beaked whales set the record for the deepest and longest dives of any marine mammals.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Record-breaking whales. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Cuvier's beaked whale. (Southwest Fisheries Science Center)

Cuvier’s beaked whale. (Southwest Fisheries Science Center)

Cuvier’s beaked whales can dive for hours at a time, coming up for only a few minutes between descents to breathe. Greg Schorr is a biologist with Cascadia Research Collective. He and his team tracked the whales in the waters off Southern California, and found that they can dive nearly two miles below the surface when hunting for prey.

GREG SCHORR (Cascadia Research Collective):

We did collect the longest dive ever recorded for a marine mammal, which was 137.5 minutes, so 2 hours and 17 minutes. So both the deepest and the longest dive ever recorded for a marine mammal.

HIRSHON:

He says the whales are highly adapted for deep diving. They carry huge amounts of oxygen in their muscles, and have collapsible lungs, which make it possible to survive the extreme pressure.

SCHORR:

We would crush at depths a fraction of what these animals are diving to.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.