Nearly 80 years after Sir James Gray formulated the paradox, using the limited tools available then to estimate the marine mammals’ physiological power, modern measurements have shown that dolphins are up to 10 times stronger than some of the most accomplished human athletes.
Frank Fish from West Chester University and Timothy Wei from the University of Nebraska used a tank of compressed air and a garden soaker hose to create a curtain of bubbles to measure just how brawny dolphins really are.
The same technique was used to measure the performance of Olympic swimmers.
Patterns left in the bubble curtain after the dolphins swam through showed that when cruising at 7.6 mph, the animals generated about 1.4 times the power that a fit amateur cyclist can sustain for an hour.
That swimming power rocketed almost 10 times when the dolphins accelerated rapidly.