the bends

From: Pieter Folkens (animalbytes@earthlink.net)
Date: Mon Mar 24 2003 - 03:16:51 EST

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    "The Bends" is a manifestation of decompression sickness that is caused
    by the formation of nitrogen bubbles in the blood and tissues after a
    rapid reduction in the surrounding pressure and is characterized by
    pain in the joints and abdomen. The Bends occur when compressed air
    (via scuba tanks) is breathed in at depths. As a diver rises to the
    surface (reducing the surrounding water pressure), the nitrogen
    component of the air expands and changes from a dissolved state into
    bubbles — not a good thing.

    Whales don't get the bends because they don't breathe compressed air at
    depths, rather the air they breathe is taken in at the surface.
    Similarly, a free-diving human who also breathes only at the surface
    does not experience the bends.

    Cheers,

    Pieter Folkens

    On Sunday, March 23, 2003, at 11:54 AM, Toleman wrote:

    > Please can you tell me why mammals such as whales and dolphins do not
    > suffer from the
    > "bends" as humans do?
    >  
    > Thankyou.
    > Judith Toleman.
    > toleman@onetel.net.uk



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