Dreaming whales

From: Phil Clapham (pclapham@whsun1.wh.whoi.edu)
Date: Wed Mar 05 2003 - 07:17:39 EST

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    Hi Brian:

    You asked if whales dream. Not only is that not a weird question, it's a
    great one and I'm not sure if I have ever had anyone ask me that (in 23
    years of answering questions!)
    The answer is we have absolutely no idea. As I said other day in response
    to another question, whales and dolphins don't sleep quite like we do;
    what they probably do is sleep one half of their brain at a time so that
    the other half can stay alert and keep them, breathing - whhales are
    voluntary breathers who have to think to breathe. This is what you'd
    expect from a diving animal, of course; automatic bretahing underwater is
    dangerous! But it does mean they can't shut their whole brain down.
    Dolphins certainly do this (it's been studied in captivity), and whales
    probably do too, but we don't know. But no one knows if they dream. or,
    if they do, what they dream about!
    Phil Clapham

    Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D.
    Large Whale Biology Program
    Northeast Fisheries Science Center
    166 Water Street
    Woods Hole, MA 02543

    Tel (508) 495-2316 Fax (508) 495-2066

    > Sir, > > I know this might seem like a weird question to ask, but do whales > dream? > > Thank you very much for your time and response. > > Thank you, > Brian

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