The world’s largest animal, the blue whale is one of the most mystical ones. And for the first time ever, a team of marine biologists from the University of Stanford in California have recorded the heartbeat of this gargantuan creature. And the results are astonishing!
The researchers suction-cupped a pulse monitor to the back of a blue whale off the coast of California and monitored its heartbeat for a total of nine hours.
The researchers observed that, when the blue whale dived to the depths of the ocean for food, it lowered its heart rate to as little as two beats a minute! This was about 30 per cent to 50 per cent lower than what researchers had expected. On average, however, the heart rate of the whale was about four to eight times a minute.
Further, when the whale was at the surface of the water, its heart rate was as much as 34 times per minute. The highest heart rate of the animal occurred when it was at the surface: it was between 25 and 37 beats per minute.
These results are significant because the highest heart rate was far more than what researchers had expected and the lower rate was around 50 per cent lower than anticipated.
“Animals that are operating at physiological extremes can help us understand biological limits to size,” lead study author Jeremy Goldbogen, an assistant professor at Stanford University in California, said in a statement.
“Therefore, these studies may have important implications for the conservation and management of endangered species like blue whales,” he added.