How do whales sleep?

From: Greg Early (gearly1@earthlink.net)
Date: Wed Jun 04 2003 - 15:33:58 EDT

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    -----Original Message-----
    From: BYoung3672@aol.com [SMTP:BYoung3672@aol.com]
    Sent: Tuesday, June 03, 2003 3:17 PM
    To: gearly1@earthlink.net; pita@whale.wheelock.edu
    Subject: How do whales sleep?

    Could you please tell me how whales sleep ? I am 8 years old and doing a
    school project.I thank you and look foward to your reply.Abi

    Abi,

    Scientists are not too sure, but they generally agree that whales probably
    do not sleep anything like you or me.

    It appears (and research has shown) that dolphins stop breathing if they
    lose consciousness, like we do when we are completely asleep. This has led
    to the belief that whales and dolphins must be conscious or at least partly
    awake in order to breath.

    Scientists and whale watchers have seen whale hanging at the surface not
    moving very much for short periods of time (minutes to an hour or so) and
    they appear to be napping (but not really asleep). There has been some
    research that seems to show that part of a dolphins brain is always active
    even when they are "sleeping". So basically we think that whales either
    take short "cat naps" or literally sleep with "one eye open" (and part of
    their brain active), but never fall completely asleep for hours like you
    and I.

    There is some concern that even though whales only doze at the surface for
    short periods, this still makes them more likely to be hit by ships.

    Regards,

    ge



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