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Lungs efficiently expel air: fin whale


Fin whale / Annie Dougla.. / LicensePD - Public Domain

Lungs of whales efficiently expel air via powerful exhalations.

"The mammals' dependency on air for breathing must be considered a real handicap in water, but the whale has minimised the problem by breathing even more efficiently than most mammals. Man only clears about 15% of the air in his lungs with a normal breath. The whale, in one of its roaring, spouting exhalations, gets rid of about 90% of its spent air. As a result it only has to take a breath at very long intervals. It also has in its muscles a particularly high concentration of a substance called myoglobin, that enables it to store oxygen. It is this constituent that gives whale meat its characteristic dark colour. With the help of these techniques, the fin-back whale, for example, can dive to depth of 500 metres and swim for forty minutes without drawing breath." (Attenborough 1979: 242)
About the inspiring organism
Med_finwhaleapproach fin whale
Balaenoptera physalus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common name: finback whale

Habitat(s): Marine Neritic, Marine Oceanic
Learn more at
Some organism data provided by: ITIS: The Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Threat Categories LONG_EN IUCN Red List Status: Endangered

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Idea for efficient dispersal mechanism for liquids or gases.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Manufacturing

Attenborough, David. 1979. Life on Earth. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. 319 p.
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