When a diver dives deep for a period of time, breathing regular compressed air, a certain amount on nitrogen will be dissolved in the blood. If the diver comes back up to the reduced pressure of the surface too quickly, small bubbles of nitrogen will form in the blood stream. This is called “the bends” and requires the person to spend some time in a decompression chamber to gradually reduce the pressure and allow the nitrogen to escape the body. Some animals goes down much deeper then we do, so how come they don’t get the bends are die from the pressure?
Like some seals and whales that could go 10 times deeper then us and comes back to the surface 10 times faster. How come they don’t suffer from this? Researchers had found that deep diving animals rely far less on air stored in their lungs and far more on oxygen stored in their muscles. Their muscles tend to hold unusually high concentrations of myoglobin. A myoglobin is a protein that picks up life-giving oxygen from the blood and stores it for later use in providing usable energy for muscles by oxidizing sugars. Humans on the other hand rely on only their lungs and the compressed air in their tank for diving. The myoglobin in the humans carries much less oxygen. Matter of fact we store very few of our oxygen in the myoglobin, we store the oxygen in the lungs and use the oxygen for the myoglobin when we need to use it.
When the seal ascend the lungs collapse rapidly, keeping large amounts of nitrogen from entering the blood. The collapse of the lungs halts the flow of all atmospheric gases form the lungs into the bloodstream. They also prevent the flow of oxygen into the blood. When this animal does deep dives, the muscles are working much harder than any other organ. It will carry their own supply of oxygen in the form of myoglobin. Deep diving animals’ stores 47 percent of its overall body oxygen in its muscles, the rest is circulating through the blood and lungs.
Also diving animals have a special way of controlling their heartbeat. Not like us, where we can’t control our heartbeat. On land seals has a heart beat of 107 beats per minute, but at sea, as it dives down to the deep water, it slows to a mean of 68 beats per minute. As the seal dives further down the heart beat gradually decreases. The rate of the heartbeat of a seal can fall as low as three beats per minute. A slow heart causes the metabolic activities to slow down. If the metabolic activity slows down, your body will function slower; this lets the seal dives deeper. In humans, kidneys can be hurt quickly if blood flow is reduced. But the diving animal is unaffected by this. Their ability to slow down the metabolic rate and storing myoglobin in their muscles let these divers dive deeper then us and not suffer from the bend.