Historical note on the northern elephant seal

One important fact that I didn’t have room to mention in my column on elephant seals is that they too were victims of exploitation, I’m talking major exploitation. According to the book Elephant Seals by Carole and Phil Adams, “by the end of the 1880s elephant seals were thought to be extinct, due to the… [read more]

Elephant seals: ocean aliens have landed!

Picture an elephant crossed with a seal and add in a little “District 9” alien. The result: the male northern elephant seal or Mirounga angustirostris. The elephant part of the description helps convey the sheer mass of the male elephant seal, plus the shape of its nose. According to the book Elephant Seals by Carole… [read more]

California, Galapagos and Japanese sea lions

I have finally made it to the “C” section of the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals! Wow, blogging my way through the encyclopedia is going to take awhile. And so the C’s begin with the California, Galapagos and Japanese sea lions. My impression is that they were all grouped together in the C’s because California sea… [read more]

Bones: water living changes bones

Here I thought that reading the section on bones in the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals would bore me to tears. And well let’s just be honest, some of it was definitely sleep inducing. Until I came to the part about “two very different trends in bone architecture and histology.” OK, stay with me now, I… [read more]

Baculum: the penis bone

Walrus baculum, 22 inches long The “B” section of the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals launches with an article by Edward Miller on the baculum. The baculum is a bone located in the penis of several species. For marine mammals this includes polar bears, sea otters, seals, sea lions and walruses. Bacula (plural of baculum) come… [read more]