Slowest heart rate

Last updated: December 16, 2019 at 4:58 am

The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) can slow its heart to as little as 2 beats per minute during a dive. On November 25, 2019, scientists from Stanford University (Goldbogen Lab) reported the first ever recording of a blue whale’s heart rate. The scientists used a tag equipped with multiple sensors that recorded the heart rate of the world’s largest animal through electrodes embedded in the center of two of the suction feet. Heart rates during dives were typically 4 to 8 beats per minute, and as low as 2 bpm. The lowest heart rate was thus about 30 to 50 percent lower than predicted.

When the whale dove, its heart rate slowed, reaching an average minimum of about four to eight beats per minute – with a low of two beats per minute. At the bottom of a foraging dive, where the whale lunged and consumed prey, the heart rate increased about 2.5 times the minimum, then slowly decreased again. Once the whale got its fill and began to surface, the heart rate increased. The highest heart rate – 25 to 37 beats per minute – occurred at the surface, where the whale was breathing and restoring its oxygen levels. — Stanford University Press Release 25/11/2019

The narwhal (Monodon monoceros) can slow its heart to as little as 4 beats per minute during a dive. A study published in 2014 revealed significant changes in heart rate when alternating solutions of high-salt and fresh water are exposed to the Narwhal’s external tusk surface. The narwhal’s tusk is also the world’s most sensitive tooth.

Stanford researchers report first recording of a blue whale’s heart rate (Stanford News Service Press Release, Nov. 25, 2019):
J. A. Goldbogen, D. E. Cade, J. Calambokidis, M. F. Czapanskiy, J. Fahlbusch, A. S. Friedlaender, W. T. Gough, S. R. Kahane-Rapport, M. S. Savoca, K. V. Ponganis, P. J. Ponganis. (2019), Extreme bradycardia and tachycardia in the world’s largest animalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; 201914273 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1914273116
Nweeia, M. T., Eichmiller, F. C., Hauschka, P. V., Donahue, G. A., Orr, J. R., Ferguson, S. H., Watt, C. A., Mead, J. G., Potter, C. W., Dietz, R., Giuseppetti, A. A., Black, S. R., Trachtenberg, A. J. and Kuo, W. P. (2014), Sensory ability in the narwhal tooth organ system. Anat. Rec., 297: 599–617. doi:10.1002/ar.22886

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