08 April 2020

Sperm whales sleeping vertically

Via National Geographic.
The findings showed that sperm whales around the world practice this vertical sleeping posture — but infrequently, spending only about 7 percent of their time asleep, which is less than any other mammal spends, according to the study.
I didn't find an explanation for the verticality with a brief search, but I wonder if the anatomy of the sperm whale's head with all that wax makes the head have a lower density and be more buoyant.


  1. Some wild ass guesses.
    1. If you urgently need a breath, especially if you are being attacked, then it's a lot easier to surface pointing up
    2. Perhaps this avoids blood rushing to your head when you sleep. Sure, you could sleep horizontal, but slight fluctuations would tilt you between head up and head down.
    3. Maybe when you wake up and are groggy, it's hard to know which way is up at night.
    4. You can get closer to your fellow pod without bumping into them.

  2. This is one of the most fascinating photographs of ocean life I have ever seen. I had no idea....

    1. I know. It's an amazing world we live in. Too bad we're always fucking it up.

  3. If this were in a movie, you could almost believe that it was a religious ritual of some sort--perhaps deep meditation or the such. If there is a Creator (and I believe there is), it seems reasonable that other lifeforms might know of such.

  4. I don't know the answer, but an alternate question is "why should they sleep horizontal"? Sperm whales dive up to a mile, so they may be doing most of their travel up and down, so why should they turn horizontally to sleep?

    I follow a photographer on Facebook, and he has a similar photo that he took himself. No explanation. But he also has amazing pictures of narwhals. https://paulnicklen.com/stills/narwhals/ !


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