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Diving Seals and Meditating YogisStrategic Metabolic Retreats$
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Robert Elsner

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226246710

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226247045.001.0001

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Cardiovascular and metabolic interactions in diving seals

Cardiovascular and metabolic interactions in diving seals

(p.57) 4 Cardiovascular and metabolic interactions in diving seals
Diving Seals and Meditating Yogis

Robert Elsner

University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses the cardiovascular responses of diving seals during metabolic activity. Responses of the heart and circulation feature prominently in the protective reactions of marine mammals during long dives. Reduced cardiac output and constricted peripheral blood flow impose major alterations on the circulatory system. Their combined reactions result in a lowering of overall oxygen consumption by reduced blood flow, sometimes apparently eliminating it from the kidneys, intestines, skin, and other organs that can better tolerate temporary circulatory arrest. This results in an abrupt decline of metabolism in the blood-deprived organs. Along with the diving seal's reduced circulation, its heart rate slows, sometimes drastically to no more than a few beats per minute. This bradycardia is initiated by neural reflex activation and occurs in coordination with the lessened demand on the heart's pumping action for supplying the consequently reduced output of blood. The demand for cardiovascular supporting reactions is variable depending on whether the diving seal is swimming or quietly resting.

Keywords:   cardiovascular responses, diving seals, metabolic activity, oxygen consumption, temporary circulatory arrest, bradycardia

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