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MYSTERIES OF ADAPTATION TO HYPOXIA AND PRESSURE IN MARINE MAMMALS
The Kenneth S. Norris Lifetime Achievement Award Lecture

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Abstract

Presented on 12 December 2005 San Diego, California

Abstract

This paper reviews past and current work on diving behavior, effects of pressure, and the aerobic diving limit from the perspective of the Ken Norris Lifetime Achievement Award. Because of the influence of Norris to marine mammalogy in general, and to my career in particular, I want to emphasize the important tradition of mentors and colleagues as keystones to a successful career in science, and ultimately to the success of science itself. These two related activities are illustrated by studies on marine mammals that were conducted in an endeavor to understand: (1) the behavioral traits associated with deep diving, (2) the mechanical and physiological effects of pressure during routine dives to great depth, and (3) the degree of oxygen depletion that they routinely endure while diving. The search for answers has resulted in numerous physiological and ecological experiments, along with accompanying theoretical analyses. Currently it appears that some deep-diving mammals may suffer from bends, and some may resort more often than what seems physiologically possible to anaerobic metabolism while diving. Above all, the way divers manage their nitrogen and oxygen stores remains a mystery.

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