• body size;
  • diving animals;
  • diving behaviour;
  • model;
  • optimal foraging

Overall, large animals dive longer and deeper than small animals; however, after the difference in body size is taken into account, smaller divers often tend to make relatively longer dives. Neither physiological nor theoretical explanations have been provided for this paradox. This paper develops an optimal foraging diving model to demonstrate the effect of body size on diving behaviour, and discusses optimal diving behaviour in relation to body size. The general features of the results are: (1) smaller divers should rely more heavily on anaerobic respiration, (2) larger divers should not always make longer dives than smaller divers, and (3) an optimal body size exists for each diving depth. These results explain the relatively greater diving ability observed in smaller divers, and suggest that if the vertical distribution of prey in the water column is patchy, there is opportunity for a population of diving animals to occupy habitat niches related to body size.