Quirks & Quarks

Why don't whales get the bends?

Some whales can dive over 1000 meters below the ocean's surface. Turtles, elephant seals and dolphins also dive to great depths. But how do they avoid decompression sickness when they come back to the surface?
Deep-diving marine animals like turtles, whales and dolphins have adaptations that stop them from getting decompression sickness when rising from deep dives. (PixaBay/CC0 Public Domain)

This week our question comes from William Comars in Toronto, Ontario. He wants to know why deep-diving marine animals don't suffer decompression sickness, or 'the bends', when resurfacing from deep dives.

Here to explain is Dr. Andreas Fahlman, a research scientist with the Oceanogràfic Foundation in Valencia, Spain. Dr. Fahlman studies decompression sickness in marine animals.

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