Which whale can hold its breath the longest?

Whales are known for being able to hold their breath for long periods of time, but which can hold its breath the longest?

The most extreme breath-holding whale is the cuvier’s beaked whale. A recent study attached satellite tags to the whales and recorded a dive to nearly three kilometres (1.9 miles) below the ocean’s surface and one particular cuvier’s beaked whale held its breath for 137 minutes! This surpasses the previous marine mammal dive record by the southern elephant seal and comparatively, the sperm whale can only hold its breath for up to 90 minutes.

The cuvier’s beaked whale’s deep diving capabilities are due to their high levels of myoglobin protein in their muscles, which increases their oxygen stores. They also have reduced air spaces within their bodies, stopping them being crushed and from suffering from decompression sickness.



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Photograph: Isaac Kohane