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Oxygen uptake from the atmosphere and from the water and total body lactate concentration were measured for freely-diving and surfacing loggerhead musk turtles at 22 C. These turtles generate lactate rapidly during vigorous swimming but do not accumulate lactate during long periods of voluntary diving and surfacing. Their great anaerobic capacity is most probably utilized during pursuit of prey, during emergencies, and possibly during aquatic hibernation. Under minimal resting conditions, aquatic oxygen uptake supplies only 12% of the total oxygen consumed. Thus, pulmonary ventilation provides the majority of the oxygen needed during periods of quiet diving, swimming and surfacing. When these data are compared with those from forcibly-submerged loggerhead musk turtles, it is clear that involuntary immersion elicits a rate of extraction of oxygen from the water three times that seen in voluntary dives.
Herpetologica © 1984 Herpetologists' League