sneezing whales

From: Pieter Arend Folkens (animalbytes@earthlink.net)
Date: Tue Oct 03 2000 - 03:44:31 EDT


>Do whales sneeze? If so, do they sneeze out of their mouths or from their
>blowholes?

A sneeze is a respriatory response to an irritant. Since the trachea (nose
to lungs) and alimentary canal/esophagus (mouth to stomach) in whales is
not connected at any point as it is in humans, whales physically cannot
sneeze through the mouth.

I have seen several dolphins and some whales with respiratory infections
cough through their blowhole(s), but never as an uncontrolled explosive
"sneeze." I guess the defining nature of a sneeze holds the answer. In
terrestrial mammals that sneeze (including my dog), the sneeze has a
character of force and head movement that is strikingly different from
normal respiration. When cetaceans cough through their blowhole(s) (toothed
whales have one, baleen whales have two), the character of the event is
more like a sloppy blow than an explosive sneeze.

Cheers,

Pieter Folkens

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