Air in a whale's stomach

From: Phillip J. Clapham (pclapham@whsun1.wh.whoi.edu)
Date: Mon Jan 15 2001 - 09:37:35 EST


Hi:
You asked about whether there was air in a whale's stomach. Yep, there is.
But that's not what keeps them afloat. Depending on the kind of whale they
are either negatively or positively buoyant (i.e. they'd sink or float
naturally). Negatively buoyant whales swim to keep afloat, and also use
the air in their lungs when they're at the surface (the lungs collapse
during a dive). Positively buoyant whales have to actually power down
during a dive - i.e. they push themselves down using their powerful tails -
and use their buoyancy to help them float back to the surface at the end of
a dive. Right whales are positively buoyant, mostly because they have so
much blubber, which is lighter than water and therefore very buoyant.
Phil Clapham



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