Andreas Fahlman, Micah Brodsky, Stefan Miedler, Sophie Dennison, Marina Ivancic, Gregg Levine, Julie Rocho-Levine, Mercy Manley, Joan Rocabert, and Alicia Borque-Espinosa

We measured respiratory flow (V), breathing frequency (fR), tidal volume (VT), breath duration and end-expired O2 content in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) before and after static surface breath-holds ranging from 34 to 292 s. There was considerable variation in the end-expired O2, VT and fR following a breath-hold. The analysis suggests that the dolphins attempt to minimize recovery following a dive by altering VT and fR to rapidly replenish the O2 stores. For the first breath following a surface breath-hold, the end-expired O2 decreased with dive duration, while VT and fR increased. Throughout the recovery period, end-expired O2 increased while the respiratory effort (VT, fR) decreased. We propose that the dolphins alter respiratory effort following a breath-hold according to the reduction in end-expired O2 levels, allowing almost complete recovery after 1.2 min.

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