Get access

Locomotor muscle profile of a deep (Kogia breviceps) versus shallow (Tursiops truncatus) diving cetacean

Authors


Abstract

When a marine mammal dives, breathing and locomotion are mechanically uncoupled, and its locomotor muscle must power swimming when oxygen is limited. The morphology of that muscle provides insight into both its oxygen storage capacity and its rate of oxygen consumption. This study investigated the m. longissimus dorsi, an epaxial swimming muscle, in the long duration, deep-diving pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps) and the short duration, shallow-diving Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Muscle myoglobin content, fiber type profile (based upon myosin ATPase and succinate dehydrogenase assays), and fiber size were measured for five adult specimens of each species. In addition, a photometric analysis of sections stained for succinate dehydrogenase was used to create an index of mitochondrial density. The m. longissimus dorsi of K. breviceps displayed significantly a) higher myoglobin content, b) larger proportion of Type I (slow oxidative) fibers by area, c) larger mean fiber diameters, and d) lower indices of mitochondrial density than that of T. truncatus. Thus, this primary swimming muscle of K. breviceps has greater oxygen storage capacity, reduced ATP demand, and likely a reduced rate of oxygen consumption relative to that of T. truncatus. The locomotor muscle of K. breviceps appears able to ration its high onboard oxygen stores, a feature that may allow this species to conduct relatively long duration, deep dives aerobically. J. Morphol., 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary