Non-Smoking Seals Have More CO, Dive Deep

By George Backwell
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Deep diving animals & Michael Tift: Photo credit NMFS permit #14636 SIO

Carbon monoxide (symbol CO) a potential new treatment for human diseases, has been found in elephant seals at levels on a par with chronic cigarette smokers, according to resarch by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

With its imperceptible features, carbon monoxide is widely known as the “silent killer” due to its risks at lethal concentrations. Far less known is that carbon monoxide is produced naturally in small quantities in humans and animals, and in recent years medical researchers have evaluated the gas as a treatment for diabetes, heart attacks, sepsis, and other illnesses.

Now scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego say they have furthered science’s understanding of carbon monoxide’s natural characteristics and limitations by studying the gas in one of the world’s best divers: the elephant seal.

Colorless and odorless, carbon monoxide (CO) is now monitored in many homes with inexpensive detectors. In human bodies, CO is produced naturally as a byproduct of the breakdown of hemoglobin—molecules responsible for transporting oxygen—inside red blood cells. Roughly one percent of the hemoglobin inside healthy human adults is linked with carbon monoxide, with elevated percentages for chronic cigarette smokers due to the absorption of CO through tobacco inhalation. Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin to form a compound called carboxyhemoglobin, a molecule which can no longer bind and transport oxygen in the blood.

As described in the May 14 issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology, Scripps graduate student Michael Tift, Scripps research physiologist Paul Ponganis, and Daniel Crocker of Sonoma State University sought to learn more about carbon monoxide levels in elephant seals, which have the highest blood volume of any mammal and are renowned for their extreme diving proficiency. Elephant seals and other highly efficient divers conserve oxygen by shutting off blood flow to peripheral areas of their body and conserving oxygen for vital organs such as the heart, brain, and lungs.

To their surprise, the researchers discovered that carbon monoxide is bound to 10 percent of the hemoglobin in adult elephant seals, or 10 times the amount found in healthy humans, and roughly comparable to someone who smokes 40 cigarettes per day.

“We found that the elephant seal is able to reach incredible depths, apparently with lots of carbon monoxide, so these results are helping us find answers for the rates at which you can expose organs and tissues to this gas,” said Tift. “The elephant seal is giving us the big picture of which concentrations of carbon monoxide might be the most beneficial.”

Scripps inform that the Office of Naval Research, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation funded the research project.

Source: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego
 

Maritime Reporter October 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Gazprom Transgaz Ufa Organizes Arts Festival

Over 200 healthy children and children with disabilities from Bashkortostan as well as the Volga Region participated in the Breaking the Barriers second interregional children’s arts festival,

President Pryor Retires from ExxonMobil Chemicals

Stephen D. Pryor, president, ExxonMobil Chemical Company and vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation, has elected to retire on January 1, 2015, after more than 44 years of service.

Steven Palazzo Visits HII, Newport

Huntington Ingalls Industries today hosted Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., for a tour of the company's Newport News Shipbuilding division. Palazzo represents the fourth district of Mississippi,

Environmental

Steven Palazzo Visits HII, Newport

Huntington Ingalls Industries today hosted Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., for a tour of the company's Newport News Shipbuilding division. Palazzo represents the fourth district of Mississippi,

Environmental Groups: IMO Polar Code Too Weak

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) today adopted the Polar Code aimed at regulating shipping in Polar Regions. Several environmental groups have criticized

Bouchard Vessels Honored by SCA

Forty-three Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc. vessels have been honored by The Chamber of Shipping America (CSA) with Certificates of Environmental Achievement.

Marine Science

Everett College to Launch New Research Boat

Everett Community College’s Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA) will launch its new research vesel on November 22 with a celebration at 11 a.m. at the Port of Everett.

EMGS to Map Brazil's Gas Hydrates

Electromagnetic Geoservices ASA (EMGS) has received a contract worth USD 1.5 million for a research project in Brazil. The project will use 3D EM data to map

IMO Steps Up Safety in Polar Waters

United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted global, binding regulations to enhance safety of navigation in polar waters. After several years’ intense negotiations,

People in the News

7 Rescued from Sinking Freighter Near Haiti

Seven crewmembers were rescued after their 100-foot coastal freighter began taking on water and sank approximately 45 miles north off of Cap Haitien, Haiti, Friday.

Gazprom Transgaz Ufa Organizes Arts Festival

Over 200 healthy children and children with disabilities from Bashkortostan as well as the Volga Region participated in the Breaking the Barriers second interregional children’s arts festival,

President Pryor Retires from ExxonMobil Chemicals

Stephen D. Pryor, president, ExxonMobil Chemical Company and vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation, has elected to retire on January 1, 2015, after more than 44 years of service.

Ocean Observation

Everett College to Launch New Research Boat

Everett Community College’s Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA) will launch its new research vesel on November 22 with a celebration at 11 a.m. at the Port of Everett.

IMO Steps Up Safety in Polar Waters

United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted global, binding regulations to enhance safety of navigation in polar waters. After several years’ intense negotiations,

Rosneft Completes Geological Survey

Rosneft reports on 100% completion of the geological survey program on Company's offshore license areas for 2014. In the current year geological survey covered

 
 
Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2113 sec (5 req/sec)