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start:life_sciences:biology:deepdiving_animals

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Deepdiving animals

Human divers need to resurface very slowly to avoid dangerous 'gas embolisms' which lead to decompression sickness (a.k.a. The Bends).

Deep-diving animals - e.g. whales, dolphins, turtles etc do not suffer the same problems (or very rarely do). There is currently no explanation.

A 2018 paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B reviews the current research and suggest a possible mechanism.

“While exposure to high pressure is a common challenge among breath-hold divers, there is large variation in respiratory anatomy, function and capacity between genera and even species. The ultra-deep-diving feats of some marine mammals go beyond our current understanding of respiratory physiology and lung mechanics.”

See : 'Pulmonary ventilation–perfusion mismatch: a novel hypothesis for how diving vertebrates may avoid the bends'

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