Where Do Dolphins Sleep?

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When dolphins sleep, they rest half of their brain at a time, and can often be found floating on the surface or laying on the bottom of the water. Identify a sleeping dolphin by its level of activity with information from a dolphin behavioral husbandry and rehabilitation coordinator in this free video on dolphins.

Part of the Video Series: Dolphin Facts
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Video Transcript

Hi I'm Petra Cunningham-Smith with Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. Today we're going to talk about how dolphins sleep. Dolphins do sleep but not the same way that you and I would sleep. When dolphins sleep, researchers have found that they tend to sleep with one half of their brain at a time. So one half of their brain can remain awake and alert looking for predators. Dolphins have to breathe so part of their brain stays alert enough that they can come to the surface and breathe air. Dolphins are not fish, they're mammals so they don't have gills. Dolphins have lungs and they breathe air just like people, horses, dogs and cats. Dolphins breathe through a hole in the top of their head that's called a blow hole and this is a direct passage from the outside to their lungs. When a dolphin surfaces after being underwater, it opens the blow hole and takes in air during their rest time. Generally you can tell when a dolphin is resting or sleeping by their activity state. Their activity is reduced to either floating on the surface or laying on the bottom and coming only to the surface to breathe. And that's how dolphins sleep. This is Petra Cunningham-Smith from Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida.


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