New breath holding record! (don’t try this at home)

Whale Conran Sat 5 June 2010 no  3

 

Cuvier’s Beaked Whale has just won the title of Deep-Dive Champion, with a record breaking dive of 3km holding its breath for a staggering 137 minutes.

Extreme breath holders – Why and how do they do it?

Deep dives are usually in search for delicious squid and fish. Finding food at the bottom of the ocean isn’t easy though, especially for an animal that is used to spending most its time at the ocean’s surface. Deep down temperatures are much colder and there is a lot of pressure pushing on thier body, plus mammals can’t breathe underwater!

Marine mammals have special ways of dealing with these tough conditions. For example, whales send all their blood closer to their brain, keeping the most important parts warm. Some marine mammals also have collapsible lungs to cope with the high pressure. Thier lungs spring back when they return to the ocean’s surface, just like opening your drink bottle after putting it in the fridge for a while. Cuvier’s Beaked Whale also has a special way to store oxygen in their muscles, meaning they don’t have to breathe as much as usual.

These adaptions mean that marine mammals can dive incredible depths and hold their breath for extreme lengths of time – they’d certainly have an unfair advantage at your beach party!

The best time to catch the whales along the Victorian coastline is between June and September. This is when the whales come north to escape the icy cold Antarctic winter. One of the best spots to catch a glimpse is along the Warrnambool coastline, or in the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park.