Dolphins reduce their heart rates just before diving to avoid decompression illness, according to a new scientific study.
Researchers at the Oceanographic Foundation in Valencia, Spain, have reassessed the idea that it’s only human divers that are at risk of DCI.
Comparative physiologist Andreas Fahlman and his team trained captive bottlenose dolphins to undertake either long or short dives on command, and used electrocardiography to measure the heart-rate adjustments they made.
To prepare for a long dive, the dolphins reduced the rate further and more quickly than for a shorter dive. They would deflate part of their lungs to direct the flow of air or blood to areas under pressure, effectively conserving more oxygen and limiting nitrogen intake.