Arrhythmias detected in deep-diving marine mammals

January 19, 2015 3:15 PM

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A new study of dolphins and seals shows that despite their remarkable adaptations to aquatic life, exercising while holding their breath remains a physiological challenge for marine mammals. The study, published January 15 in Nature Communications, found a surprisingly high frequency of heart arrhythmias in bottlenose dolphins and Weddell seals during the deepest dives.

The normal dive response in marine mammals has long been understood to involve a marked reduction in heart rate (called bradycardia) and other physiological changes to conserve limited oxygen reserves while the air-breathing animals are underwater. How marine mammals cope with the exertion needed to...

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