Send to

Choose Destination
J Comp Physiol B. 2006 Aug;176(6):535-45. Epub 2006 Mar 3.

Ontogeny of total body oxygen stores and aerobic dive potential in Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus).

Author information

University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA.


Two key factors influence the diving and hence foraging ability of marine mammals: increased oxygen stores prolong aerobic metabolism and decreased metabolism slows rate of fuel consumption. In young animals, foraging ability may be physiologically limited due to low total body oxygen stores and high mass specific metabolic rates. To examine the development of dive physiology in Steller sea lions, total body oxygen stores were measured in animals from 1 to 29 months of age and used to estimate aerobic dive limit (ADL). Blood oxygen stores were determined by measuring hematocrit, hemoglobin, and plasma volume, while muscle oxygen stores were determined by measuring myoglobin concentration and total muscle mass. Around 2 years of age, juveniles attained mass specific total body oxygen stores that were similar to those of adult females; however, their estimated ADL remained less than that of adults, most likely due to their smaller size and higher mass specific metabolic rates. These findings indicate that juvenile Steller sea lion oxygen stores remain immature for more than a year, and therefore may constrain dive behavior during the transition to nutritional independence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center