Deep sea diving and cassion workers are at extreme risk from many hazards such as "bends," nitrogen narcosis, and oxygen poisoning when compressed air is absorbed into their bodies, and then decompressed. However, the cuvier's beaked whale can take in a large volume of regular surface air, dive to a depth of 1 mile in a 20-minute descent, then resurface in another 20 minute ascent with none of these lethal effects. To me, the physics is not different. There should be dissolved nitrogen bubbling out of their blood as they decompress, forming embolisms in capillary vessels. There should be lethal concentrations of oxygen being absorbed in their bloodstream during the dive from the surface air they brought down, which is subsequently compressed to ridiculous partial pressures. Is there an explanatory mechanism or precedent?
While I understand we don't have a good many beaked whale cadavers to research, how can the physics of respiration - the dissolving and degasification of elements in our air into blood - somehow be different for deep diving mammals like this?