Energy expenditure of swimming bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)
- Cite this article as:
- Yazdi, P., Kilian, A. & Culik, B. Marine Biology (1999) 134: 601. doi:10.1007/s002270050575
The aim of our investigations was to determine, via oxygen and carbon-dioxide respirometry, how much energy dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) require when swimming at different speeds. Experiments were conducted on two female bottlenose dolphins (mean mass 162 kg) in the dolphinarium in Nuremberg Zoo, Germany, between March and August 1997. Animals were stationed in a respiration chamber for a minimum of 90 s after performing a variety of activities. We measured respiration frequency and oxygen requirements during (1) resting, (2) swimming at various velocities and (3) leaping to various heights. Resting metabolic rate of our bottlenose dolphins (2.15 W kg−1) was comparable to previously published data. Metabolic rate in swimming dolphins increased to 2.47 W kg−1 at 2 m s−1, while leaps to 2.2 and 3 m height required a power input of 3.5 and 4 W kg−1, respectively. Transport costs of swimming dolphins were lowest (1.16 J kg−1 m−1, corresponding to 0.12 J N−1 m−1) at a speed of 2.5 m s−1, yielding an optimal range speed of between 1.9 and 3.2 m s−1 (corresponding to minimum cost of transport ±10%). Breathing rates during all experiments correlated very well with oxygen consumption (r2 > 0.89) and could be used to derive metabolic rates in unencumbered dolphins at sea.