A little known, shy whale has surprised scientists by staying submerged for almost four hours.
Cuvier’s beaked whales are known for their abilities to dive deep and they average around an hour under water.
But researchers were astounded when they recorded one animal diving for three hours and 42 minutes.
They believe that it is the longest dive yet recorded for any whale and almost certainly a record for all mammals as well.
Beaked whale species are a bit of mystery to scientists, spending much of their time far from shore.
The Cuvier’s beaked whale has a stout body, a small sloping head and short beak. Males appear to have two teeth which they use for fighting, females don’t seem to have any.
They normally hunt squid for food, usually sucking the creatures into their mouths to eat them.
Scientists say that in pursuing their favourite food, these whales have been documented diving down to around 3,000m.
When they surface they spend about two minutes before diving again, meaning it is very difficult for researchers to observe and tag them.
In 2014, one whale was recorded diving for just over two hours, the longest known time underwater.
In this latest study, researchers recorded more than 3,600 dives by two dozen Cuvier’s beaked whales over a five-year period.
They recorded dives lasting from around half an hour to two hours thirteen minutes, well past the point at which an animal of this size should run out of oxygen.
But two dives by one individual whale “astounded” the research team.
One was almost three hours long, another three hours 42 minutes.
“The longest dive for the species was about two and a half hours, so this is the longest for Cuvier’s beaked whales, but it’s also the longest for any mammal,” Dr Nicola Quick, from Duke University in Durham, US, told BBC News.