Arctic Marine Mammals

What better way to celebrate the holiday season than with a post about all the fabulous marine mammals hanging out near the North Pole? The Arctic hosts a variety of marine mammals including eight species of pinnipeds (several seals, walruses), three cetaceans (bowhead, beluga and narwhal whales) and one fissiped (polar bears). (For me, fissiped is… [read more]

Archaeocetes: ancestors of the whales

Today’s whales, dolphins and porpoises can trace their ancestry to Archaeocetes, the name given to a group of prehistoric whales that lived 55 to 34 million years ago. However, these animals looked nothing like whales. Well I’m being overly dramatic; one looks kind of like a whale, but it not exactly. Based on the drawings… [read more]

Antarctic Marine Mammals

After a journey with the Antarctic fur seal, the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals features Antarctic marine mammals in general. These robust marine mammals live within the Antarctic convergence, an invisible natural border where the extremely cold Southern Ocean meets warmer water from the north. Most marine mammals who live further north do not cross this… [read more]

Ambergris: sperm whale intestinal goodies

Ambergris sounds like a word for a fancy French wine or dessert, but it’s actually the name for a blob of stuff that forms in the sperm whale’s large intestine or rectum. According to the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammal’s article authored by Dale Rice, ambergris is actually an Old French word meaning “gray amber.” Apparently,… [read more]

Age Estimation in Marine Mammals: the answer lies in a dolphin’s smile

Ah, the question we all wonder at one time or another. How old or how young is a certain person? Humans are tricky subjects for age guessing depending on race, sun exposure, dyed hair, plastic surgery and general health upkeep. Unless you are willing to just ask and make it easy; assuming whoever it is tells you… [read more]

Aerial Behavior of Marine Mammals: breaching whales and leaping dolphins

Whale watching is thrilling, a mini-adventure where you get to experience the open ocean, feel the wind on your face and on a very good day, see whales and dolphins perform astonishing aerial behavior such as breaching and leaping. Breaching is when a whale leaps out of the water giving whale watchers the show of a lifetime,… [read more]

Blue Whale: the largest animal to ever live on Earth

And now ladies and gentlemen…drum roll please…introducing the largest animal to ever live on earth, bigger than the largest dinosaur, as long as two school buses stacked end to end a whopping 80 feet, weighing on average 85 tons with a heart the size of a Volkswagen Beetle…I now present to you—the blue whale. Yes,… [read more]