Elephant seals are deep-diving marine mammals, with the ability to swim to extreme depths of more than 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) beneath the surface of…Read More »
These animals also have surprisingly high levels of naturally produced carbon monoxide — a noxious gas that is deadly at high concentrations — in their blood, according to a new study. In fact, the amount of carbon monoxide found in the blood of these large mammals is roughly the same as that in people who smoke 40 or more cigarettes each day, researchers say.
Scientists suspect the high levels of carbon monoxide could protect elephant seals from injury during their deep dives.
Elephant seals, seen here on the Farallon Islands off the coast of California, live in harems, with one male mating with many females.
6 of 6
Credit: NOAA, Robert Schwemmer, Wikimedia Commons
A northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostis) pup performs some impressive acrobatics at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, located along California's central coast.
Science Newsletter: Subscribe
More from LiveScience
Denise Chow is the Sci-Tech Editor at Live Science. Before joining the LS team in 2013, she spent two years as a staff writer for Space.com, where she wrote about rocket launches and covered NASA's final three space shuttle missions. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University. To find out what her latest project is, you can follow Denise on Google+ and Twitter.