Forced submersions and natural dives are compared with regard to heart rate, blood distribution and O2 consumption. Heart rate has been used as a primary indicator of blood distribution. However, often the dive heart rate has been compared to inappropriate surface conditions, and it is suggested that it should be compared to resting apneusis in the arrhythmic breathing animal. Furthermore, natural dives are frequently short relative to the breathhold capacity of a diver, and often during these dives there is little change in heart rate or apparent kidney function from the resting state. Calculations are made to determine the breathhold limit without O2 conservation measures. Further calculations are made to estimate the expected metabolism and metabolite production during an exceptionally long dive in a seal when O2 conservation must be invoked. These results are compared to known values obtained from a Weddell seal that made a 61 min dive. Based on the results of these observations and calculations, three possible models of blood distribution during natural dives are discussed. This discussion shows the limitation of present data and the type of data needed to resolve the question of how aquatic vertebrates manage O2 stores during dives of varying durations.