humpback whales sleeping

From: Erich Hoyt (
Date: Mon Feb 11 2002 - 04:07:28 EST

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I would like to know something about humpback whales. How do they
sleep? Do they sleep during night?
If you've got a picture of a sleeping humpback whale could you please
send it to me?

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Humpback whales, like other whales and dolphins, are voluntary breathers,
so they have to be awake to come to the surface to breathe. This means that
they can only sleep for as long as they can hold their breath - 20 or 30
minutes. (Humans and other land mammals are involuntary breathers - so they
keep breathing while they sleep whether it's for a night or an entire

In fact whale sleep may be more like resting in catnaps which occur
sometimes in day, sometimes in night. There is no evidence that sleeping
occurs more often at any one time.

Sleeping or resting whales may stay on or close to the surface for longer
periods than usual.

I don't have any photographs of sleeping humpback whales but there are some
photos on the WhaleNet site you might be able to download, or print... Have
a look around! Anything that shows a whale at the surface, motionless (no
water moving), could be a fair impression of a sleeping whale.

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