ADAPTATION Respiration - Oxygenation

Cetaceans have a larger body than most terrestrial animals. This means a larger blood volume which increases the amount of oxygen transported and stored in the body.

Cetaceans have a high amount of myoglobin in the muscle tissue. This iron-rich protein functions somewhat like hemoglobin in the blood. It binds with oxygen and can be stored for a period of time, improving the oxygenation efficiency to working muscles. (Zahn, 1988)

Left: A hemoglobin molecule(Chien Ho, Carnegie Mellon University), and Right: A myoglobin molecule. Both have four iron groups (red areas) that bind to oxygen .