Seals protect brain during icy dives

October 10, 2006

Norwegian scientists say they've determined seals cease shivering during long icy dives to conserve oxygen and, therefore, minimize brain damage.

The researchers from the University of Tromso say their finding provides insight into how seals allow their bodies to become hypothermic during a dive, presumably to better cope with hypoxia -- a lack of oxygen.

The researchers note shivering is an involuntary response that consists of muscle contractions that produce warmth. Mammals and birds are physiologically programmed to shiver when body temperature drops below a certain point.

By shutting down the shivering response, a seal allows its body temperature to drop and achieve the benefits of hypothermia: a slower metabolism and lowered oxygen requirements that extends the dive time.

The researchers presented the study Tuesday, in Virginia Beach, Va., during an American Physiological Society conference.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Diving shrews -- heat before you leap

Related Stories

Diving shrews -- heat before you leap

July 3, 2012

How does the world's smallest mammalian diver survive icy waters to catch its prey? A recent study of American water shrews to be presented at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting in Salzburg on 1st July has surprised ...

New form of malaria threatens Thai-Cambodia border

December 28, 2009

(AP) -- O'treng village doesn't look like the epicenter of anything. Just off a muddy rutted-out road, it is nothing more than a handful of Khmer-style bamboo huts perched crookedly on stilts, tucked among a tangle of cornfields ...

Recommended for you

Interactive tool lifts veil on the cost of nuclear energy

August 24, 2015

Despite the ever-changing landscape of energy economics, subject to the influence of new technologies and geopolitics, a new tool promises to root discussions about the cost of nuclear energy in hard evidence rather than ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.