Elephant seal Sleep Apnea Video

In July 2008, I took this video clip of our resident elephant seal “Slash” asleep in one of his favourite spots behind the boathouse at Race Rocks. At 8:00 am he was in a deep sleep, interrupted only by the kelp flies on his face and a few itchy spots on his body. What was remarkable was the recurring pattern of breath holding. I made this video as a study of this aspect of what appears to be intentional sleep apnea. Since the filming was uninterrupted, one can time the various phases of a breathing cycle. Labels on the video point out the beginning and end of one such breath-holding cycle. I observed that he repeated a similar pattern for at least 15 minutes, the length of time I as was able to observe. Listen for the sounds and watch for the flaring nostrils.You can see more elephant seal images and videos in the Elephant Seal Taxonomy.