Nature’s Scuba Divers: How Beetles Breathe Underwater | Deep Look

Nature’s Scuba Divers: How Beetles Breathe Underwater | Deep Look


We think we know what water feels like, how it behaves. But perception is a matter of scale. For very small animals – water feels different.
It has different properties. It’s almost gooey. And for some insects, this strange fact is
key to their survival. Meet nature’s scuba divers. They can breathe underwater. Because they
carry their air with them— in some cases, for a lifetime. What makes this possible is a force almost
too subtle for bigger animals, like us, to notice: surface tension. Here’s how it works… Water molecules are
drawn to each other.. they’re kind of sticky. At the surface, that creates a … film…
that can actually carry weight. That’s surface tension. It also allows bubbles to form. This beetle traps a bubble with his outer
wings. He hauls it under the surface while he hunts
for food. See how the bubble is attached to his rump?
That’s where his breathing holes are. They’re called spiracles. When he’s used up the oxygen in the bubble,
he lets it go. And returns to the surface for a new one. These beetles have a different technique.
They’re born on land but enter the water as adults. And they never go back. That’s because part of their shells are
covered in tiny bristles, which use surface tension to trap a layer of air known as a
plastron. That coating of air gives this beetle a gold
shimmer, almost like she’s in a space suit. Surface tension keeps a whole underwater menagerie
alive. All these insects have found ways to carry
air with them underwater. But it’s fragile. Just a little bit of soap
can disrupt surface tension – destroy its magical properties. When surface tension breaks, a whole world
can drown. Just like these paper clips sinking to the
bottom of the bowl. And even though we’re bigger? We still rely
on it. Surface tension allows raindrops to form,
trees to carry water to their leaves, ice to float. We may not always notice surface tension. But we need it, just as much as they do. Oh good. You’re still here? Well, take another look at this water scorpion. No, she’s not a scorpion, she just looks like one. But her tail is a snorkel. She actually breathes air through it. Cool, right? Also cool? That subscription button. It costs nothing to you to click on it. But when you do, we get to bring you more stories. More bugs and stuff. So, thanks — thanks for subscribing, thanks for watching, see you next time.

100 thoughts on “Nature’s Scuba Divers: How Beetles Breathe Underwater | Deep Look

  1. If humas get this in evolution…it would be embarrassing.

    We would be using our farts to breath underwater.

  2. This is so fascinating. When I was growing up, I had a book about insects that had a picture of the first water beetle and its air bubble. This is the first time I've seen it in action, though, and it's amazing.

  3. What would happen if we treated storm clouds with a chemical that reduced the surface tension of water? Would it just stay as a cloud longer?

  4. Wanna mess up your brain for an hour? Earth is blanketed in things like oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen. Those are much thicker than the vacuum of space. The air we breathe is thicker than the nothingness of space. Human are living in an airy, less-dense soup than creatures in water. But biologically, we're the same. It's about scale and size. Our planet is a pellet among the stars and totally coated in something. Something denser than nothingness. You and I and your children are little creatures clinging to a rock covered in molecules of elements allowing us to live. Ponder that. A droplet covered in a few droplets allowing life. We are nothing. Nothing. Hurling through space. Appreciate the Earth. She's our only pond.

  5. Found a Great Diving Beetle randomly while out walking along a beach and had no clue what it was, I've spent the last half hour reading about it, it's pretty cool the kind of things you encounter in nature. It's like we take all this immense complexity for granted, but just saying, "Oh, well, that's a beetle, I guess." I'm glad videos like this exist, thank god we're a curious species xD

  6. Hi. What did they mean by surface tension allows ice to float? I thought it ice floats because water is a bent molecule; the bend causes the molecules to freeze in a position such that gaps form, and thus is less dense than water in the liquid state making it float.. I guess I don't understand where the surface tension comes in.?

  7. really nice video. thank you.looking forward for new surprising episodes with insects.

  8. James Blish wrote a wonderful short story called ”Surface tension” from an even smaller perspective long ago…

  9. My brain:pop it

    Me:it will die thought…

    My brain:we don’t need the beetle anyway

    Me:am I really gonna pop it for your amusement?!?

    My brain:you popped it

    Me:WHAT?! looks down at the bettle

    My brain:why did you have to pop the bubble

    Me:Aaksjdneheuwiqkansbrhewiw

  10. I love this. You should emphasize on the soap vs bugs thing. Because im sure a lot of viewers didn't get that. Thats a whole 5-10 minute video in itself.

  11. Two things either :
    1) God created this insect with such ability and insect has no sense what so ever it's doing
    2) Even Insect has conscience to realize it needs more air to stay longer under water and comes up with a technique. Hence go vegan.

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