Sea lions, weasels and bears oh my!

Classifying animals is a messy business. Back in the day before genetic analysis, seals, sea lions and walruses were classified as members of the order Pinnipedia. They were considered to be “separate from but closely related to the terrestrial carnivores of the order Carnivora” as told by the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. And of course… [read more]

Classifying marine mammals, clades shmades

As of the writing of this post, there are four clades of marine mammals. Things could change if some crazy fossil is found that alters all current knowledge, but for now we only have to know about four clades. Now is a good time to explain what a clade is. According to the fabulous glossary… [read more]

Oceans movie is worth seeing

I don’t dare post the actual Oceans poster image for fear of being sued by Disney, but I have to say the movie is definitely worth seeing on the big screen. There is amazing underwater footage of sea creatures you will most likely never have the chance to see and of course many great shots… [read more]

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]

4 main types of cetacean prey

1. The first types of prey that many cetaceans prefer are tiny critters that form large schools closer to the surface. This includes several types of crustaceans (krill) and small fish (sardines, anchovies). And ironically enough, the largest whales prefer this type of dinner and have a built-in filter system called baleen that allows them… [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]