Dr Lee Fuiman of the University of Texas is among researchers who have solved a mystery that has taunted observers of seals, whales and other marine mammals for centuries. In an article published in the journal Science the research team revealed just how marine mammals can stay submerged without breathing for astonishingly long periods of time. Certain marine mammals appear to use more energy than puzzled scientists believe can be stored in their bodies while they are swimming and diving around underwater.
Fuiman said the key to the mystery is that the animals can descend several hundred metres by gliding, without propelling themselves. âOur assumption that they were swimming constantly while they were submerged was wrong,â he said.