I haven"t written many write-ups lately because I"ve been busily growing and also now education a baby girl. Together I to be breastfeeding the other day, ns wondered how marine mammals prefer whales and also dolphins feed their babies milk while underwater. I"m no a marine mammal specialist, so I"ve never ever seen your mouths increase close - but I couldn"t imagine how baby whales would type a seal around the mother whale"s nipple so the they could drink the milk rather of drinking seawater and/or letting the milk just leak out right into the ocean.

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My Google Scholar and also You-Tube searches turned up this generalizations:

Whale and dolphin babies take fairly short dives under their mothers to drink. The mother"s nipples are usually inverted but upon stimulation through the baby, the nipples come out and also milk is ejected into the baby"s mouth, if the infant holds ~ above the nipple v its mouth, or holds its mouth and/or tongue around the nipple. Right here are part videos the a Beluga whale, a dolphin, and also a Humpback whale nursing. Wow! Those babies space competent.

Some researchers suggested that sperm whale babies might actually receive milk v their blowholes (perhaps due to the fact that their mouths room shaped also less conveniently because that suckling), yet others found evidence for dental suckling. This succession of high-quality photographs likewise shows a sperm whale infant nursing orally; the high-fat contents of the mother"s milk is likewise apparent indigenous the slow rate that undrunk milk mixes into the seawater.

In a way, education underwater is therefore comparable to nursing over water: the baby stimulates the mammary glands to eject milk, and then it drinks the milk. However, the mechanism for stimulating the milk ejection reflex must be somewhat different - in human beings the babies develop a seal and also suction top top the nipple stimulates the reflex. In whales and dolphins, it appears that the reflex is likely stimulated when the babies bump the mammary glands; for example, milk ejection was likewise observed in Beluga whales bumping into the bottom that a tank.


Drinnan, R. L., & Sadleir, R. M. F. S. (1981). The suckling behavior of a captive beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) calf. Applied pet Ethology, 7(2), 179-185.

Gero, S., & Whitehead, H. (2007). Suckling habits in sperm whale calves: observations and hypotheses. Maritime mammal science, 23(2), 398-413.

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Johnson, G., Frantzis, A., Johnson, C., Alexiadou, V., Ridgway, S., & Madsen, P. T. (2010). Proof that sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) calves suckle through their mouth. Maritime mammal science, 26(4), 990-996.