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): https://news.stanford.edu/press-releases/2019/11/25/first-ever-recorhales-heart-rate
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

Before commenting, please be aware that the Diving Almanac is not an award nor a hall of fame. It is simply a listing of individuals, past and present, that have made a significant contribution to the world diving community. Also note that comments are moderated: (1) Stay on topic (2) Be respectful (3) Refrain from vulgarity and abusive language (4) Do not make personal complaints about a person’s character, business, work or associations (5) Do not publish materials that violate copyright. OFFENDING COMMENTS WILL BE DELETED.
If you would like to nominate someone to our Who’s Who, please complete the form on the nomination page. For details on existing profiles, please contact the Editor.
In order to ensure your browsing experience is as enjoyable as possible, banners are kept to an absolute minimum, which means that advertising revenues alone cannot sustain this 100% FREE publication. Researching and updating the Diving Almanac requires a lot of time and dedication. If you believe the diving community needs a central body of information to record, validate and make available our shared history and accomplishments, please show your support by making a contribution to the Diving Almanac via PayPal (Porbeagle Press). Thank you!