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Seals protect brain, conserve oxygen by turning off shivering response on icy dives

robic metabolism, avoid lactate buildup that occurs in the face of insufficient oxygen and require little time to recover, Folkow explained. Seals often spend 80-90% of their time at sea underwater, he said.

Seals in the wild occasionally dive for so long that they use nearly all their oxygen, but they can recover with these special adaptations. Humans cannot tolerate oxygen levels nearly so low as a seal can.

"Somehow they tolerate hypoxia better, we don't know why," Folkow said. The study of how seals handle this lack of oxygen may someday give us knowledge that is useful in treating people who have suffered severe hypoxia, although those advances are likely years in the future, he added.
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Source:American Physiological Society


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