How do seals sleep? Diary of imposed relaxation

What does Chewbacca have to do with seals and starlings? To find out, read on...

As a part of my imposed relaxation I get to think about things that might never cross my mind. For example, when I was sitting with my friend Erica at Third Beach in Stanley Park we shared a quiet moment. I’m not sure if she was reflecting or if her mind was utterly empty like mine. Then suddenly we saw two seal heads pop up.

That’s when I had a thought. And the thought was, how do these guys sleep? I went to a session at the Northern Voice conference last week and Dr. David Ng spoke. He’s a geneticist but mainly he’s a science educator with a particular interest in making science accessible to kids and people who don’t know alot about it.

He talked about how we tend to embrace and value things of a cultural nature and he explored the idea that how science is communicated stops it from being adapted into popular knowledge and culture. He used a few examples to illustrate. He showed us a picture of a starling and asked a room full of people to identify it. In a room of 60 people only a handful could identify a common bird. Then up came a picture of pokemon. And everyone laughed and responded to that because everyone knows pokemon. He also used the Star Wars character Chewbacca (memory fails me here but I thought it was him).You would have to be sleeping under a rock to not know Chewbacca. Out of a room of about sixty it turns out only one person was sleeping under a rock and didn’t have a clue who Chewie was.

This brings me back to the seal. Dave said seals sleep on rocks. I posited that seals don’t sleep. Erica said they were mammals they had to breathe air. Who knew? Well, it turns out they do sleep for short periods of time. They float beneath the surface of the water and will unconsciously surface to breathe.

Anyways, that was my thought two days ago. Thanks to my relaxation program I know how seals breathe. Thanks relaxation. I wonder what thought will come my way today.

* if anyone is interested in the gap between science and culture Dave Ng and his students have a great blog called Terry..there’s lots of interesting stuff on there.


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