Development of myoglobin concentration and acid buffering capacity in harp (Pagophilus groenlandicus) and hooded (Cystophora cristata) seals from birth to maturity

J Comp Physiol B. 2009 Nov;179(8):985-96. doi: 10.1007/s00360-009-0378-9. Epub 2009 Jun 30.


Pinnipeds rely on muscle oxygen stores to help support aerobic diving, therefore muscle maturation may influence the behavioral ecology of young pinnipeds. To investigate the pattern of muscle development, myoglobin concentration ([Mb]) and acid buffering ability (beta) was measured in ten muscles from 23 harp and 40 hooded seals of various ages. Adult [Mb] ranged from 28-97 to 35-104 mg g tissue(-1) in harp and hooded seals, respectively, with values increasing from the cervical, non-swimming muscles to the main swimming muscles of the lumbar region. Neonatal and weaned pup muscles exhibited lower (approximately 30% adult values) and less variable [Mb] across the body than adults. In contrast, adult beta showed little regional variation (60-90 slykes), while high pup values (approximately 75% adult values) indicate significant in utero development. These findings suggest that intra-uterine conditions are sufficiently hypoxic to stimulate prenatal beta development, but that [Mb] development requires additional postnatal signal such as exercise, and/or growth factors. However, because of limited development in both beta and [Mb] during the nursing period, pups are weaned with muscles with lower aerobic and anaerobic capacities than those of adults.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium*
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Canada
  • Diving / physiology
  • Female
  • Greenland
  • Male
  • Muscle Development
  • Muscle, Skeletal / growth & development*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Myoglobin / metabolism*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Seals, Earless / growth & development
  • Seals, Earless / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity
  • Time Factors
  • Titrimetry


  • Myoglobin