Breathing Movements of Whales


WHALES, when breathing, usually keep on the move ; the purpose of this letter is to explain why. All aquatic air-breathing creatures have to contend with the risk of water entering their lungs. Although the blow-holes of whales are valvular and situated on the highest part of the head, these animals, usually, can only breathe with safety when their blow-holes are at some height above the surface of the sea.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    "The Spouting and Movements of Whales", Annual Report of Smithsonian Institution, 1903.

  2. 2

    "Journal of a Voyage", p. 287.

  3. 3

    "Voyage of the Lady Franklin and Sophia", 2, 324 ; 1850–51.

  4. 4

    "Arctic Regions", 1, 494.

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

GRAY, R. Breathing Movements of Whales. Nature 133, 797–798 (1934).

Download citation


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing