Anatomy: Animals Inside

Respiration

What are the breath-holding capabilities of mammals?

It’s not easy for most humans to hold their breath underwater, but some animals seem to be the champions. The following lists the average time in minutes that certain animals can hold their breath—in other words, not take oxygen into their system. It is interesting to note that some humans can hold their breath for longer; the underwater record by 2012 was 22 minutes and 22 seconds—humans can hold their breath longer underwater than on land because of what is called the “diving reflex,” when the body slows down the heart and metabolism to conserve oxygen and energy when in cold water.

Mammal

Average time in minutes

Human

         1

Polar bear

      1.5

Pearl diver (human)

      2.5

Sea otter

        5

Platypus

      10

Muskrat

      12

Hippopotamus

      15

Sea cow (manatee)

      16

Beaver

      20

Porpoise

      15

Seal 15–70 (depends on the seal type)

 

Fin whale

      20

Greenland whale

      60

Sperm whale

75–90

Bottlenose whale

   120



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