Smithsonian Magazine Interviews Burghardt about Beluga Whale Bubbles

Gordon BurghardtThe Smithsonian Magazine interviewed Gordon Burghardt for a story exploring beluga whales’ whimsical and quirky behavior of blowing bubbles. Turns out this pastime offers insight into the mammalian brain, according to the article.

One possible explanation is that the belugas are bored. In the wild, they cover vast distances and dive into deep trenches, the article notes. At a marine park, they’re confined to concrete pools. “Captive animals are deprived of a lot of normal stimuli,” Burghardt told the magazine. “So you often see them engaging with their environments in ways they wouldn’t normally do.” Read the full story online.

Burghardt, a UT Alumni Distinguished Service Professor, is an expert on animal play. He holds appointments in the Departments of Psychology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.