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

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

Whale and dolphin babies take reasonably short dives underneath their mother to drink. The mother"s nipples are normally inverted but upon stimulation by the baby, the nipples come out and also milk is ejected right into the baby"s mouth, while the baby holds ~ above the nipple through its mouth, or holds its mouth and/or tongue around the nipple. Below are part videos that a Beluga whale, a dolphin, and a Humpback whale nursing. Wow! Those babies room competent.

Some researchers argued that sperm whale babies might actually receive milk with their blowholes (perhaps since their mouths space shaped also less conveniently because that suckling), yet others found evidence for dental suckling. This sequence of high-quality photographs also shows a sperm whale baby nursing orally; the high-fat content of the mother"s milk is also apparent indigenous the slow rate that undrunk milk mixes right into the seawater.

In a way, nursing underwater is therefore similar to nursing above water: the baby stimulates the mammary glands to eject milk, and then it drink the milk. However, the mechanism for stimulating the milk ejection reflex should be somewhat different - in humans the babies develop a seal and suction top top the nipple stimulates the reflex. In whales and also dolphins, it appears that the reflex is likely engendered when the babies bang the mammary glands; because that example, milk ejection was additionally observed in Beluga whales bumping into the bottom that a tank.


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

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

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