Emperor penguins space the undisputed champions of diving in the people of birds. They have the right to travel an ext than 500 meters listed below the surface, and stay submerged for more than 20 minutes, also though by every accounts your oxygen should run the end in just a portion of that. So how do lock pull off this extremely cool trick?

As they run in the water and also hold their breath, lactate starts to build up in your muscles till they with what's dubbed the 'aerobic dive limit', in ~ which allude they shift their body end to anaerobic management - a device that works without oxygen. They slow their heartbeat under and fully shut down all non-essential organs. It's nearly as if they get in suspended animation, other than that they room still animated.

You are watching: How long can a penguin hold its breath

The concern is, how do the penguins trigger this transformation? To uncover out, researchers implanted oxygen monitors in the muscle in a number of the emperor penguins, tracking how deep castle went and also what taken place to the oxygen in the birds' bodies.

They currently knew the penguins had actually three stores of oxygen to draw from when they dive, situated in the blood, lungs, and also the myoglobin of your muscles. Once the birds surfaced, the researchers found two distinctive patterns in the ways the level of oxygen were connected to the dives: sometimes the levels would deplete from the muscle at a stable pace till they hit the anaerobic state. This suggests that once oxygen in the muscles operation out, the anaerobic state kicks in. Yet they likewise saw oxygen levels decrease, climate plateau, prior to finally fall far enough to cause the anaerobic state. This make them think that the penguins to be doing the animal version that rerouting power from the shields to the warp core.

Just published in the journal of experimental Biology, the scientist's document reveals the the penguins are qualified of isolating your muscles native the rest of your circulatory system. Castle can diminish the oxygen from their muscles individually from your lungs and also blood — which enables them to hit that anaerobic state while maintaining some reserves behind in various other parts of your bodies. Or, they have the right to prevent the anaerobic state from kicking in, since they are able come reroute the oxygen from the various other two systems into the muscles, keeping every little thing nice and also oxygenated.

See more: Question: What Percent Of 60 Is 3 Out Of 60 As A Percentage?


Using these two methods, the penguins make certain that they enter the anaerobic state only once it's required most.