Diving physiology in dolphins and humans

Chris McKnight, Alexander Patrician, Zeljko Dujic, Sascha Kate Hooker, Andreas Fahlman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


During diving, the body is exposed to a number of environmental stressors that result in physiological responses. Many of these responses are common across both humans and dolphins. One of the best known is the dive response, historically referred to as the “master switch of life,” a defense against asphyxia. This is enacted during submersion and consists of a reduction in heart rate and a redistribution of blood to high-priority organs. Increasing hydrostatic pressure during descent compresses all air-filled spaces, resulting in structural changes, and alters blood gas tensions and hemodynamics. In this chapter, we will briefly outline a number of physiological changes associated with diving and compare and contrast these responses between humans and dolphins.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe physiology of dolphins
EditorsAndreas Fahlman, Sascha K. Hooker
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherAcademic Press/Elsevier
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780323905176
ISBN (Print)9780323905169
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2023


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