Whales can swim up to great depths in water to seek food. A Cuvier’s beaked whale recently set a new record for holding breath underwater by diving up to 2 miles deep and remaining underwater for more than 2 hours.
As part of a research, satellite-linked tags were placed on eight Cuvier’s beaked whales. These whales swam off the Southern California coast. The species is typically known for diving to great depths under water, some hunting at more than 3300 feet depth.
Once the tagged whales were in the open water, the researchers studied their movements. They were able to collect a whopping 3700 hours of data including information about the time and depth of their dives. The data divulged a total of 1100 deep dives which averaged at 0.87 miles deep.
One of these whales was able to dive down to nearly 2 miles underwater, staying under water for 137 minutes. This is a new record set by a mammal for holding breath underwater. Formerly, the record was held by elephant seals, with a measured dive of 1.5 miles deep timed at 2 hours.
Gregory Schorr, lead author of the study, commented on the occasion, ‘It’s remarkable to imagine these social, warm-blooded mammals actively pursuing prey in the darkness at such astounding depths, literally miles away from their most basic physiological need: air.’
Sadly, the beaked whales are particularly endangered because of the military sonar operations. They are often stranded as a result of these operations and there’s a dire need to find a way which will mitigate the risk posed to these whales.