How Long Can Birds Hold Their Breath Underwater?

S. Carter/CC-BY-SA 2.0

The exact amount of time that a diving bird can spend underwater will vary by species, but typically, these birds can spend between 3 and 10 minutes under the surface of the water. In addition to being able to hold their breath, these birds may have adapted specific helpful physical features to help them stay underwater.

For example, the gannet, which can be found in parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, has no nostrils, instead breathing only through its mouth. This feature not only helps the bird survive underwater but also helps it perform a unique diving technique that allows the gannet to go well past the water’s surface.