They can slow their heart rate from 100 beats per minute to 10 beats per minute from one beat to the next.
I USED TO LIVE ON on a boat. Sometimes the boat broke. One time when it broke, fog rolled in. We shut down the engine and listened for surf so as not to run aground while we waited for the fog to lift. As we lay dead in the water, a baby gray whale surfaced next to us and blew spume over the starboard gunnel. For half an hour and more he surfaced and dived next to us, so light in color he looked like a baby Moby Dick, his dark eye (you could only see one at a time) intelligent and curious, his manner fearless. Mom said he probably thought we were his mother. After a while, he went on his way. After a while longer, the fog lifted and we went ours.
I’ve had a special place in my heart for mammals with fins ever since. I think they’re cool, and they are, literally. They have heat exchangers for flippers. They can slow their heart rate from 100 beats per minute to 10 beats per minute from one beat to the next. They nap underwater while holding their breath.
Before you’re impressed at how well informed I am, I should say that I knew none of this before I went to Whalefest! in Sitka this year.
Dana View All →
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.
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