PDF Do Whales Get the Bends?

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Using a question and answer format, this entertaining narrative addresses a multitude of general interest questions about the sea, sea life, seabirds and man's relationship with the sea. Have you ever wondered: Does drinking seawater drive you mad? Do fish drink water?


Can Whales Get the Bends?

Does anything eat jellyfish? How do flying fish fly? Why do icebergs float? Do Whales Get the Bends? Only the bones of whale calves did not show signs of osteonecrosis, the scientists found, and the bone damage became more severe in larger older whales—an indication that osteonecrosis caused by decompression illness is a chronic, progressive disease among sperm whales.

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When air-breathing mammals dive to high-pressure depths, the nitrogen in their bodies becomes supersaturated in their tissues. If they rise too quickly, the pressure is released too suddenly. The nitrogen reverts to gas, forming bubbles, or emboli, which can obstruct blood flow and lead to bone damage.

Moore and Early launched their study in after a necropsy of a sperm whale found dead on a Nantucket Beach revealed evidence of osteonecrosis. Intrigued, they decided to examine as many sperm whale skeletons as possible.

How To Battle The Bends When Diving- Journeys to the Bottom of the Sea - BBC

Their inventory included whales from the Pacific and Atlantic, and whales that died as long as years ago—so the newly found phenomenon is neither localized nor recent. Sperm whale dives typically last about an hour, but can be up to two hours, and they go to depths of 1, to 2, meters in search of their preferred prey: The scientists theorize that the whales normally manage their surfacing behavior to decompression problems. But if a noxious sound—from a sonar, for instance, or seismic airguns used in oil exploration—disrupts their usual behavior and provokes fast surfacing, the whales risk acute problems from nitrogen emboli.

Moore and Early reported their findings in the journal Science.