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How do marine mammals avoid the bends? Study offers new hypothesis, highlights role that sonar plays in strandings | Phys Org

How do marine mammals avoid the bends? Study offers new hypothesis, highlights role that sonar plays in strandings | Phys Org

Deep-diving whales and other marine mammals can get the bends—the same painful and potentially life-threatening decompression sickness that strikes scuba divers who surface too quickly. A new study offers a hypothesis of how marine mammals generally avoid getting the bends and how they can succumb under stressful conditions.

The key is the unusual lung architecture of whales, dolphins and porpoises (and possibly other breath-holding diving vertebrates), which creates two different pulmonary regions under deep-sea pressure, say researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Fundacion Oceanografic in Spain. Their study was published April 25, 2018, in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“How some marine mammals and turtles can repeatedly dive as deep and as long as they do has perplexed scientists for a very long time,” says Michael Moore, director of the Marine Mammal Center at WHOI and co-author of the study. “This paper opens a window through which we can take a new perspective on the question.”

Source: How do marine mammals avoid the bends? Study offers new hypothesis, highlights role that sonar plays in strandings | Phys Org