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Most divers will not plunge past 400 feet into the oceanic abyss. If the human body were to descend too far, the muscles in our lungs are very likely to be crushed, killing the individual immediately. Every 33 feet descended into the ocean increases the weight on a diver 15 lbs. per square inch. In a human the muscles in our lungs are just too weak to venture too far into the deep. It does make one wonder how other animals are capable of such an amazing feat that have left so many humans dead or with serious health issues.
This essay will cover the ways marine animals survive and handle the ocean’s pressure.
Humans typically cannot dive further than 400 feet down into the ocean. It is shocking then to learn that there are marine mammals that can dive as far as 9, 514 feet into its depths. Whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals are capable of diving far past the capabilities of human lungs, in just one breath.
Most marine mammals that can dive the deepest into the ocean are very large animals. An example of this is the second deepest diving marine animal, the sperm whale, who grows to a length of 67 feet and can dive over 6500 feet into the ocean.
One might think marine animals can dive deep into the ocean because their bodies and inner organs are so much larger than ours. Science, however, has pointed towards amazing adaptations these creature have gained as the reason behind their remarkable survival in a blue world.
In fact, a marine mammals lungs are small in comparison to their height and weight. Their bodies have adapted to hold an immense amount of oxygen in their bodies, not just in their lungs. They have a higher volume of blood circulating through their bodies than land mammals. Their blood has also adapted to the need for more oxygen. It is more densely packed with red blood cells, allowing it to carry a higher level of oxygen through it. Their muscles also contain a higher amount of protein, myoglobin, which allows the muscle to hold more oxygen inside of them.
Marine animals are not completely immune to the dangers of the ocean’s overwhelming pressure. Recent research has shown that even marine mammals are susceptible to decompression sickness. Dubbed as “the bends” by divers, decompression sickness is when sudden decompression causes nitrogen bubbles to form in the body’s tissues. This sickness causes muscle pain, joint pain, cramps, numbness, nausea, and paralysis. Beached whales recently found and examined has indicated that these creatures died from decompression sickness when bubbles were found in their lungs. Marine mammals bodies seems to have adapted in a way to try to avoid this illness, as their lungs are small which reduces that amount of nitrogen that enters into their bloodstream as they surface to fast. There is speculation that marine mammals fall ill to decompression sickness when they are forced to surface too fast due to stress induced both by their natural world and human activity.
In conclusion marine mammals can dive much further into the ocean than a human body can. A marine mammal can easily travel 10 times the amount of a human diver’s extreme limits. Marine mammals’ bodies have adapted in many amazing ways to accomplish this deed. Unfortunately marine mammals are not completely immune to the ocean’s pressure and still fall ill to decompression sickness when forced to rise to the surface too quickly. A marine mammal’s body has even adapted to prevent the symptoms of this illness at all costs. A marine animal’s body is truly amazing and we can learn quiet a lot about adaptation to one’s environment from them.
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