7 Facts On Can Dolphins Stay Underwater? How Long, When, How, Why


7 Facts On Can Dolphins Stay Underwater? How Long, When, How, Why

Most people are amazed at how fast dolphins can swim in the water, but if they can stay underwater for a significant amount of time or not is still a matter of debate. Let’s find out if dolphins can stay underwater. 

It is true that dolphins can stay underwater but only for a couple of minutes. This is because after some time they face difficulty in breathing because they do not have gills like fish. And to stay underwater they need to breathe their lungs which need constant oxygen.

Dolphins are sea creatures that have evolved into marine life. They have got various features that make them different from the rest of the sea creatures.

Dolphin, Underwater” by ZeMoufette is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

How long can dolphins stay underwater?

If you’ve ever watched dolphins swim around in their natural environment, it may have left you wondering, How long can dolphins stay underwater? Well, here are some fascinating facts about how long dolphins can stay underwater before having to come up for air and how they go about doing so!

Generally, Dolphins can stay upto 10 minutes underwater. However, some species can stay underwater for 15 minutes or more. Infact, they can also travel over 30 miles per hour, although their average speed is half of that. 

 Dolphins are very good at staying underwater for long periods of time.

Some varieties can stay underwater longer than humans can hold their breath, and have even been known to sleep this way! 

How do dolphins stay underwater so long?

The ability of dolphins to stay underwater for so long, as well as to sleep at the same time, is truly astounding. But how do they do that? What special adaptations allow them to stay underwater? Let’s explore. 

Dolphins can stay underwater for a long period of time because they can breathe through their blowhole, which is on the top of their head. In addition to this, they can also engage in specific behavior patterns which allow them to stay underwater. 

However, in reality this amazing animal has a unique adaptation that allows it to accomplish both tasks. Dolphins have developed a special adaptation that allows them to trap and store oxygen in their bloodstream. 

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These adaptations enable them to dive deep down into the seas and still be able to revive themselves in time to catch their prey. It is also said that marine animals use something called a counter current exchange system. 

They have a set of blood vessels in their flippers and fins that are close to the surface and then there are blood vessels in the core of their body that are close to the organ. The blood exchanges oxygen between the two, allowing the dolphin to stay underwater for long periods of time.

How long can dolphins swim underwater?

The lives of dolphins are shrouded in so much mystery that the only thing we can truly be sure of about them is their remarkable ability to swim underwater for an extended period of time. But how long they can swim underwater. Let’s find out. 

The average dolphin can swim for 5-8 minutes underwater, but it’s not uncommon to find some that can stay underwater for up to 20 minutes at a time!  Which is much less than how whales can live underwater. 

Dolphins have developed the ability to breathe while they swim underwater. They have developed a complex system that is the blowholes that allows them to breathe while they swim. 

In addition to being able to stay underwater for a ;long period, dolphins are the only animals that can hold their breath underwater for a longer period of time than any other animal species. 

They can hold their breath anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes, depending on the circumstances and the dolphin’s species and age.

 The longest recorded time that dolphins have stayed underwater without coming up to breathe is 24 minutes and 15 seconds. 

How long can dolphins stay underwater without breathing?

Dolphins” by ryn413 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

How long can dolphins stay underwater without breathing is a question that is on the minds of people all around the globe. If you have ever wondered how long dolphins stay underwater before they have to breathe then the answer is surprising.  Let’s take a look at it in more detail.

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Dolphins cannot stay underwater for more than 12 to 15 minutes. Due to the fact that dolphins are mammals. Since mammals are warm blooded, they are required to maintain a constant body temperature. This means they can’t stay underwater as long as fish – they need to breathe. 

This might make you wonder how dolphins do this? Dolphins have an additional air-filled pocket within each lung, called alveoli, which are surrounded by capillaries that bring oxygen into the bloodstream. 

There are two layers of these capillaries rather than just one, as in most mammals, and the membrane surrounding the lungs is also very elastic and thick, this allows them to stay underwater, 

Why can dolphins stay underwater for so long?

The average human can hold their breath underwater for about one minute, but dolphins are unique in that they can stay submerged underwater for a longer period of time! The question is what is the reason for this? What is their major purpose? Read below to know!

Dolphins stay underwater to catch prey like fish this is the reason they can stay underwater for a little longer. However, they cannot remain underwater for more than 20 minutes thus they need to return to the surface after a couple of minutes. 

Dolphins may stay underwater for so long to avoid predators, such as sharks, since it is hard for them to see their prey when they are close to the sea floor. In addition, dolphins can use echolocation to find prey beneath the ocean’s surface

How long can bottlenose dolphins stay underwater?

Bottlenose dolphin” by WIlly Volk is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Bottlenose dolphins are known for their impressive breath-holding capability, which could be an evolutionary adaptation to help them catch prey and escape predators at the bottom of the ocean. This makes people wonder how long they can stay underwater? Let’s find out. 

The bottlenose dolphins are capable of holding their breath for about ten to twelve minutes. They breathe around 7 to 10 times every minute which means that in a minute they take about 7 breaths.

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 If they take a breath at the start of the minute and at the next breath they are going to stop one breath before the end of the minute, then they can hold their breath for as long as possible.

Known for both their saltwater and freshwater habitats, bottlenose dolphins are well known species of dolphins. This gives them the ability to use both the sea and the rivers for their food sources.

When dolphins stay underwater for a long time?

Dolphins in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia” by DocklandsTony is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

It is not unusual for marine animals to spend a long time underwater, but for dolphins, it is a bit unusual. Under normal circumstances, dolphins can stay underwater for more than 20 minutes. What is even more interesting is that they may even choose to stay underwater for more than this time limit. But what does this mean for these creatures and how do they go about it?

Dolphins stay underwater for a long time to hunt and when they run out of food. In order to hunt fishes and small fish mammals they stay underwater for a long time to satisfy their hunger. In that case they usually stay for longer duration underwater. 

However, at times, dolphins will stay underwater for long periods of time not for hunting but for different purposes. This can be related to breeding, or when a dolphin feels threatened. However, some dolphins will engage in this behavior for no apparent reason. In fact, there is some confusion over why dolphins do this. 


Indeed dolphins can stay underwater for several minutes (not to mention hours) because they have a very efficient respiratory system that is part of their unique aquatic lifestyle. They have developed physiological adaptations to allow them to stay underwater for so long, and the first of these is their lungs. 

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