Diving and swimming performance of white whales, Delphinapterus leucas: An assessment of plasma lactate and blood gas levels and respiratory ratesJournal of Experimental Biology (1997)
AbstractThe white whale Delphinapterus leucas is an exceptional diver, yet we know little about the physiology that enables this species to make prolonged dives. We studied trained white whales with the specific goal of assessing their diving and swimming performance. Two adult whales performed dives to a test platform suspended at depths of 5–300 m. Behavior was monitored for 457 dives with durations of 2.2–13.3 min. Descent rates were generally less than 2ms-1 and ascent rates averaged 2.2–3ms-1. Post-dive plasma lactate concentration increased to as much as 3.4mmoll-1 (4–5 times the resting level) after dives of 11 min. Mixed venous PO· measured during voluntary breath-holds decreased from 79 to 20 mmHg within 10 min; however, maximum breath-hold duration was 17 min. Swimming performance was examined by training the whales to follow a boat at speeds of 1.4–4.2ms-1. Respiratory rates ranged from 1.6 breaths min-1 at rest to 5.5 breaths min-1 during exercise and decreased with increasing swim speed. Postexercise plasma lactate level increased to 1.8mmoll-1 (2–3 times the resting level) following 10 min exercise sessions at swimming speeds of 2.5–2.8ms-1. The results of this study are consistent with the calculated aerobic dive limit (O2 store/metabolic rate) of 9–10 min. In addition, white whales are not well adapted for high-speed swimming compared with other small cetaceans.
Citation InformationScott A Shaffer, D P Costa, T M Williams and S H Ridgway. "Diving and swimming performance of white whales, Delphinapterus leucas: An assessment of plasma lactate and blood gas levels and respiratory rates" Journal of Experimental Biology Vol. 200 (1997)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/scott_shaffer/42/