[MARMAM] physiological adaptations to deep diving

MARMAM Editors marmamed at uvic.ca
Fri Feb 13 15:42:29 PST 2009

>From Dan Mingea (thechair_man at hotmail.com)

Dear Marman,

I am a physician, nearing retirement age. I have sought answers to whale 
internal anatomy and whale physiology for several years, consulting many 
old books and the 'net.

I have often found descriptions of whale external anatomy (I know they 
have flukes), but I have always run into deadends trying to ascertain 
specific adaptive mechanisms for prolonged diving to depths. I am 
well-aware of the phenomenon of "diving reflex" in humans.

I am particularly interested in physiological adaptations (hemoglobin, 
myoglobin, acid-base balance, hemoglobin dissociation curves, etc.) in the 
whale that make the whale different from me: why can I not dive deep for a 
long time? What is different? I don't want to dive deep, but I do want to 
know why the whale can.

I hope you can steer me in the right direction.

G. Dan Mingea, MD, FAAP

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