Admiral, Whales to Starboard!

Thank you, Mr. Scott. These are sperm whales taking a floating snooze off the coast of the Azores. Why do they sleep “standing up”? Glad you asked.

Photo from Magnus Lundgren, of the National Geographic Society.


  1. Cambridge Rat Mom says:

    And humpbacks, I have learned, sleep with only one half of their brain, while the other half stays awake and keeps track. Birds can do the same thing.

  2. I also think that human parents can do that for their offspring’s first couple of years for nursing and keeping an ear out for crying.

    Hubby and I sleeping with one of our 2 nursing sons?
    *Lie all night like a corpse and only have to fold 7″ of bedding back up in the morning to make the bed*

    Now that they are 10 and 20?
    *Go to sleep in a perfectly made bed, wake up hopelessly tangled in the sheets which are all untucked (yes, even the fitted sheet) and have crept up to above our knees, half hanging off his side of the king-sized bed (read, not a tiny set of bedding), our limbs akimbo and several parts of our respective bodies numb from either the other laying on them or because they are wrenched up underneath our lower back.*

    Any other living creature in our bed, now, would be smothered and ripped into several pieces within the first hour of sleep.

    When I think about it, I really do think that nature afforded human parents this ability, too. :D

  3. phred's mom says:

    You described it perfectly. The slightest squeak
    out of my daughter brought me awake in a

  4. SO true! I was listening to some new parents at work talking about how you’re “not supposed” to sleep with your children in your bed. So sad.

  5. Mary (the first) says:

    I didn’t have kids but had cats who routinely slept with me, under the covers, plastered against me. My 21 yr. old kitteh who was only about 5 lbs. at the end, was determined to sleep next to me even though it worried me to death that I’d squish her. (I’m a whooooole lot more than 5 lbs.) And yet, no one ever suffocated. I do think I’d be scared to do that with an infant though; kittehs can squirm away if needed but a baby can’t.

  6. fleurdamour says:

    I think I do that at work sometimes.

  7. Maybe someone lost a game of whale Jenga?

  8. phred's mom says:

    Their heads are more buoyant than the rest of their bodies,
    I think. The article didn’t address the vertical position – unless
    missed it, sometimes I scan too quickly. Neat image.

  9. OMG I bet it’s like this:

    Humans stand and walk upright all day. When they go to sleep, they lay down horizontally to mix it up.

    Whales swim all day horizontally. Then THEY go to sleep, they stand upright to mix it up? :)

  10. SlaveToCat says:

    Or they are trying to keep water out of their nose.?

  11. Makes sense to me! :-)

  12. Happens every Sunday…they eat huge bowls of krill while watching football and then fall asleep.

  13. Fird Birfle says:

    LUV that Saffron :)

  14. :)

    Go Patriots!

  15. emmberrann says:

    You betcha!!

  16. Yogurt almost came out of my nose, I laugh so hard! What a mental image!

  17. I want to swim up and hug them!

  18. phred's mom says:

    You must have verrrrrrrrrrry lonnnnnnnng arms.

  19. I wonder if they snore?

  20. Fird Birfle says:

    LOVE the annoyed hovertext.
    I figured it was gonna be about somebody HOGGING the covers ….

  21. They sleep standing up because they’re (up)Right whales.

  22. Wootwoot for cetacean humour!

  23. Niiiiiiiice! :-D

  24. Fleurdamour says:

    Tilted back in the La-Z-Boy with their pants unzipped.

  25. Fleurdamour says:

    La-Z-Buoy, hah!

  26. Malle Babbe says:

    Shhhh!!! They’re communicating with the alien probe!

  27. Ha! :-)

  28. emmberrann says:

    They are air breathers, right? Head is closer to surface, right? Easier to get to air with head closer to surface, no?

  29. The article says “2008” so why am I only hearing about this now, huh? Animal Planet and Discovery have sadly let me down!

  30. Uber-Blorp!

  31. Janet in NYC says:

    They look ancient figures in stone drifting through the sea

  32. Did anyone see the news recently about an albino whale spotted off (I think) the coast of New Zealand? I instantly thought, “So, Melville wasn’t just making that up . . .” Don’t know if these guys qualify as cute, exactly, but very majestic and beautiful they certainly are. There be whales here!!

  33. If you read the article, it’s also suspected that they may have REM cycles, ie DREAM.

    I wonder what whales dream about?

  34. Winning.


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