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The Deepest Diving Animals

Here are the top 15 animals that can dive the deepest!

Which animals can go particularly far down? Are there also birds that dive particularly deep? And which animals can live 27,000 feet (8,000 meters) deep below the surface? The animals in this list set remarkable records that are difficult to imagine for us humans. Scroll down for more info and illustrative examples!

Humboldt Penguin Humboldt Penguin - Photo: jgolby/Shutterstock

Which Animals Dive the Deepest?

CategoryAnimalDiving Depth
Bony fish Cusk-eel 27,460 feet (8,370 meters) *
Octopus "Dumbo-Octopus" 22,965 feet (7,000 meters)
Crustacean Amphipoda 17,388 feet (5,300 meters)
Toothed whale Cuvier’s beaked whale 9.586 feet (2,922 meters)**
Cartilaginous fish Rabbitfish 8,202 feet (2,500 meters)
Seal Southern elephant seal 7,834 feet (2,388 meters)
Toothed whale Sperm whale 7,381 feet (2,250 meters) ***
Manta ray Spinetail mobula 6,062 feet (1,848 meters)
Toothed whale Giant beaked whale 5830 feet (1,777 meters)
Toothed whale Northern bottlenose whale 4,767 feet (1,453 meters)
Turtle Leatherback turtle 4199 feet (1,280 meters)
Toothed whale Blainville’s beaked whale 1,250 m
Mackerel sharks Goblin shark 3,937 feet (1,200 meters)
Dolphin Short-finned pilot whale 3,343 feet (1,019 meters)
Seal Weddell seal 1,998 feet (609 meters)
Bird Emperor penguin 1.751 feet (534 meters)

* This record has not been confirmed. The cusk-eel was caught in a net on the ground of the Puerto Rico Trench (an 800 km long deep sea trench). There haven’t been any other finds in similar nets, so that the animal is assumed to live in depths of about 6,561 feet (2,000 meters).

** for 137.5 minutes! Just consider: Whales are mammals that have to come up to the water surface to breathe.


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*** In the stomachs of sperm whales the remains of animals were found that only live in depths of about 9842 feet (3,000 meters). Therefore, sperm whales are assumed to be able to dive that deep. Yet, this theory has not been officially confirmed yet.

Maximum Diving Depth

All listed records are extreme diving depths. Usually, animals do not stay so deep in the water all the time, but also come up to the water surface regularly, some of them to take a breath. Next time they possibly do not dive as deep. Not every animal always tries to reach the record depth as food can also be found at higher levels.

Which Bird Dives the Deepest?

Birds are also very good at diving. This might surprise you at first – mostly you would think of birds flying high in the air. But not all birds can fly, such as the ostrich, which is a very good runner instead. Penguins also cannot fly, but they are very good swimmers and divers.

The emperor penguin can even dive 1.751 feet (534 meters) deep and thus holds the record. The thick-billed murre (from the family of auks) is very good at flying AND diving. It can reach a depth of about 688 feet (210 meters). In addition to birds, reptiles such as the leatherback turtle and octopuses also dive rather deep.


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The Deepest Diving Ungulate

Moose can dive up to 19.6 feet (6 meters) deep in order to reach especially delicate and delicious water plants on the ground of the river.

How Deep Can a Human Dive?

Even William Trubridge, the “human” Deep Diving world champion (without flippers) cannot keep up with many animals. Although he is able to dive 331.3 feet (101 meters) deep, the emperor penguin is still better at it and manages 1,751 feet (534 meters).

A human being would die at this depth without a special diving suit or diving bell because of the enormous pressure. And now, just imagine diving 26,246 feet (8 km) deep. This would be no problem for the cusk-eel ... but it would not survive diving up to the water surface due to the low pressure there.

More information:
6 Creepy Deep-Sea Animals
Animals That Are Best at Holding Breath Under Water
How Do Animals Breathe Under Water?


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