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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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Regulatory mechanisms in the seal’s dives

Regulatory mechanisms in the seal’s dives

Chapter:
(p.75) 5 Regulatory mechanisms in the seal’s dives
Source:
Diving Seals and Meditating Yogis
Author(s):

Robert Elsner

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226247045.003.0005

This chapter focuses on the regulatory mechanisms of diving seals. Frequent dives demand exquisite timing of mechanisms that regulate respiration and circulation; long sustained immersions result in metabolic depression. Continued functioning of the seal's heart when its blood-borne oxygen decreases, as the dive lengthens, depends on its enhanced capacity for reliance upon anaerobic energy sources, a capability generally greater than that of nondiving mammals. Increasing cardiac production of lactate that occurs as the dive progresses is a product of the conversion to anaerobic metabolic processes, and is supported by the seal heart muscle's unusually high glycogen content, a resource exceeding that of terrestrial mammal (dog or pig) hearts. The ensuing decline in blood oxygen, and increasing carbon dioxide and acid products of metabolism further activate signals originating in neural chemoreceptor organs perfused by arterial blood.

Keywords:   regulatory mechanisms, diving seals, metabolic depression, anaerobic energy sources, lactate, anaerobic metabolic processes, glycogen, neural chemoreceptor organs, arterial blood

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