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Dolphin Tales: Dolphin give new meaning to ‘half asleep’

February 19, 2020
By Capt. Cathy Eagle , Pine Island Eagle

While sleeping, the dolphin shuts down only half of its brain, along with the opposite eye. The other half of the brain stays awake at a low level of alertness. This attentive side is used to watch for predators, obstacles and other animals. It also signals when to rise to the surface for a fresh breath of air. After approximately two hours, the dolphin will reverse this process. This pattern is often called cat-napping.

Young dolphin actually rest, eat and sleep while their mother swims, towing them along in her slipstream-a placement called echelon swimming. At these times, the mother will also sleep on the move, in fact, she cannot stop swimming for the first several weeks of a newborn's life. If she does for any length of time, the calf will begin to sink, as it is not born with enough body fat or blubber to float easily.

How can dolphin sleep and not drown? Dolphin have two basic methods of sleeping. They either rest quietly in the water vertically or horizontally, or sleep by swimming slowly next to another dolphin. Individual dolphin also enter a deeper form of sleep, mostly at night. It is called logging because in this state a dolphin resembles a log floating on the water's surface.

You can find our engaging bottlenose dolphin (tursiops truncates) just about anywhere along Florida's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Just take your time, scan the surface and look for a fin!

Capt. Cathy Eagle has spent over 40 years boating our local waters. As a professional charter captain, she specializes in dolphin and nature tours. Visit or call 239 994-2572.



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