These Whales Can Hold Their Breath For Over Three Hours While Diving Around 10,000 Feet Deep

ead72 - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual whale

Like most humans, you can probably hold your breath for about a minute or two. While it feels like a long time at the moment, it doesn’t really compare to the abilities of some deep-sea creatures.

Humans just aren’t built for breath-holding. So, what animal can hold its breath the longest? The champion would have to be a marine mammal called Cuvier’s beaked whale.

During a five-year-long study of 23 of these whales, scientists recorded one member of this species diving and holding its breath for three hours and 42 minutes.

In comparison, the longest a human has gone without oxygen is 24 minutes and 37 seconds. This world record was achieved in 2016 by Aleix Segura Vendrell from Barcelona, Spain.

The Cuvier’s beaked whale can dive around 10,000 feet beneath the waves as they hunt for squid and other food. The average dive duration for beaked whales in the study was 59 minutes. Only five percent of the whales in the group had dives that went over one hour and 17.7 minutes.

Before a Cuvier’s beaked whale beat the record for the longest breath-holding session underwater, a northern elephant seal held the title. It was observed holding its breath for 119 minutes.

Other marine creatures, like sperm whales, are known to spend 90 minutes underwater before resurfacing for air.

These marine mammals can go for so long without oxygen due to a special protein called myoglobin that is found in their muscles. The protein stores oxygen and supplies it to muscle cells. Myoglobin is also present in humans.

However, we have much lower concentrations of it, and too many of the proteins clumping together can cause disease.

ead72 – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual whale

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