Wearable Device Reveal Seals Prepare Themselves For Diving By Reducing Blood Flow To Their Blubber

A team of researchers at the University of St Andrews in the UK developed a non-invasive.....

Image credit: Pikist

A team of researchers at the University of St Andrews in the UK developed a non-invasive wearable device that allows them to monitor what happens inside diving animals in unprecedented detail. Their device uses near-infrared spectroscopy to monitor blood volume and oxygenation of the animals.

“It’s effectively like a Fitbit,” says lead researcher Chris McKnight. “It does not penetrate the skin.”

Read more Scientists Develop Marine Skin Wearable to Track Underwater Creatures

McKnight and his team decided to study harbor seals. They found that seals have conscious control of their dive reflex, pre-tuning their bodies both before dives and subsequent surfacing.

Nearly every mammal, including us, has a dive reflex. This reflex triggers various changes in the body that aids in swimming underwater, including the reduction of blood flow to the skin and a reduction in heart rate which lowers the rate of oxygen consumption.

Scientists previously believed this dive reflex was an automatic response, one which is triggered in humans, for example, by the holding of the breath and the sensation of cold water hitting the face.

Recently, however, studies have begun to show that some diving mammals have degrees of control over this process.

When the team attached their device to the harbor seals, they found that the peripheral blood vessels of seals started to contract well before they dived – typically around 15 seconds before and sometimes as much as 45 seconds, reports New Scientist.

McKnight believes seals must do it under control. “There’s no other stimulus,” he says.

Read more These Wearables for Animals Will Keep Your Pets Happy and Engaged in Social Media

The seals also restored normal blood flow to the blubber several seconds before surfacing, again showing conscious control.

The team also discovered that when seals are feeding, they don’t bother to stay at the surface long enough to restore normal blood oxygen levels.

Researchers are now planning to study other mammals, including humans.

Sam Draper
August 10, 2020

Innovation of the Month

Do you want to discover more, visit the website
Visit Website

Other news

Facedrive Contributing to VMware’s Open-Source Protocol to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

Facedrive Health, the developer of TraceSCAN, is contributing to Herald – an open-source project...

Zebra Introduces Offerings for Digitizing and Automating Fulfillment

Zebra Technologies has introduced its first all-in-one Android-based wearable computer.

Posture and Tech Company Posture360 Launches Crowdfunding EOI with Birchal

Back pain is the most common cause of disability worldwide, and it’s also the number two reason....

Helmet With Noninvasive Oscillating Magnetic Field Shrinks Glioblastoma Tumor

Houston Methodist Neurological Institute researchers from the department of neurosurgery shrunk ...
Discover more