Whale, is the common name for various marine mammals of the order Cetacea. The term whale sometimes refers to all cetaceans, but more often it excludes dolphins and porpoises, which belong to suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales). This suborder also includes the sperm whale, killer whale, pilot whale, and beluga whale. The other Cetacean suborder Mysticeti (baleen whales), are filter feeders that eat small organisms caught by straining seawater through a comblike structure found in the mouth called baleen. This suborder includes the blue whale, the humpback whale, the bowhead whale and the minke whale. All Cetacea have forelimbs modified as fins, a tail with horizontal flukes, and nasal openings (blowholes) on top of the head.

Whales range in size from the blue whale, the largest animal known to have ever existed at 35 m (115 ft) and 150 tonnes, to various pygmy species, such as the pygmy sperm whale at 3.5 m (11 ft). Whales collectively inhabit all the world's oceans, population growth rate estimates for various species around 3-13%.

Biologists estimate there are 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears. About 60% of those live in Canada. Polar bears are also found in the U.S. (Alaska), Russia, Greenland, and Norway (Svalbard).

In May 2008, the U.S listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, citing sea ice losses in the Arctic from global warming as the single biggest threat to polar bears. Polar bears depend on sea ice for hunting, breeding, and in some cases, denning. In recent years, summer sea ice losses in the Arctic have been accelerating.

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group also lists sea ice losses from a warming Arctic as the biggest threat to polar bear survival. At their 2013 meeting, scientists reported that of the 19 subpopulations of polar


Can you name the 32 different types of dolphins?

(Its ok if you can't we did it  for you):

Bottlenose dolphin, Killer Whale, Common dolphin, Hector's dolphin, Short-Finned Pilot Whale, Commerson's dolphin, Long-Finned Pilot Whale, Black dolphin, Atlantic Humpbacked dolphin, Haeviside's dolphin, Indo-Pacific Humpbacked dolphin, Southern Right Whale dolphin, Tucuxi, Northern Right dolphin,  False Killer Whale, Spotted dolphin, Melon-Headed Whale, Atlantic Spotted dolphin, Irrawaddy dolphin, Striped dolphin, Rough-Toothed dolphin, Spinner dolphin, Risso's dolphin, Pygmy Killer Whale, Clymene dolphin, Fraser's dolphin, White-Beaked dolphin, Peale's dolphin, Atlantic White-Sided dolphin,  Hourglass dolphin, Pacific White-Sided dolphin and the Dusky dolphin. There is also five species of River Dolphins in the world (here they are too): Amazon River dolphin, Chinese River dolphin, Ganges River dolphin, Franciscana and the Indus River dolphins. Sadly these river dolphins are on the endangerd species list and in China the river dolphins are thought to be extinct.

porpoise, small whale of the family Phocaenidae, allied to the dolphin. Porpoises, like other whales, are mammals; they are warm-blooded, breathe air, and give birth to live young, which they suckle with milk. They are distinguished from dolphins by their smaller size and their rounded, beakless heads. Porpoises are 4 to 6 ft (120-180 cm) long and are black above and white below. The finned porpoises, species of the genus Phocaena, have a dorsal fin. They are distributed throughout the world and include the common porpoise, Phocaena phocaena, found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The finless porpoise, Neophocaena phocaenoides, is found in the Indian and W Pacific oceans and in the Chang (Yangtze) River. Traveling in schools, porpoises prey on fish, often pursuing them long distances up rivers. The fat of the porpoise yields a lubricating oil, and the flesh is sometimes eaten. In North America the dolphins (family Delphinidae) are sometimes called porpoises and the bottle-nosed dolphin is sometimes called the common porpoise. True porpoises are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Cetacea, family Phocaenidae.:


Sharks are fish. But how is a shark different from other kinds of fish?

Most other fish have skeletons made of bone. A shark's skeleton is made of cartilage, a type of strong but flexible tissue.
Most other fish are covered in smooth, flat scales. A shark is covered in sharp, toothlike scales called denticles.
Most other fish have just one gill slit—an organ for breathing—on each side of the body. A shark has five, six, or even seven gill slits on each side.
Most other fish have flaps over their gills. Sharks do not.

Sharks Myths and Stats

Sharks Hall of Fame 

Sharks have extremely sensitive hearing. They can identify much lower sounds than human ears can detect, and some can hear sounds more than 700 feet away. Some scientists think hearing is typically the first sense sharks use in detecting their prey. Smell, however, could be the most remarkable of the sharks' senses. Some sharks may be able to track their prey by smell from up to a mile away, probably by following a trail of microscopic particles of protein or blood.  Different sharks have their babies, or "pups," in different ways. Some lay egg cases. Others grow the pups inside of them and give birth to live young. Depending on the species, a shark may give birth to one or to dozens of pups! However it is born, a pup is on its own from the start—the mother shark doesn't stay around to take care of it.

Scientists think that ancestors of sharks lived more than 400 million years ago—about 200 million years before dinosaurs. The main types of sharks living today evolved by 100 million years ago.  Most sharks have at least four rows of teeth. They don't chew—they use their powerful teeth to bite and tear their food. As the first row of teeth in a shark gets worn out, the other rows of teeth move forward. New teeth are always forming.  Sharks rarely pose a danger to humans. But humans do pose a danger to sharks! Fishermen kill an estimated 30 million to 100 million sharks every year. About 75 shark species are in danger of becoming extinct.


Sea turtles are classified in the Class Reptilia, Subclass Anapsida and Order Chelonii. There are seven recognized species of sea turtles, six of which are in the Family Cheloniidae (the hawksbill, green, flatback, loggerhead, Kemp's ridley and olive ridley turtles), with only one (the leatherback) in the family Dermochelyidae.


Sea turtles start their lives in eggs buried in the sand. After a two-month incubation, the young turtles hatch and run to the sea, facing attack by a variety of predators (e.g., birds, crabs, fish) along the way. They drift at sea until they are about a foot long and then, depending on the species, may move closer to shore to feed.

Sea turtles mature at around age 30. The males then spend their whole lives at sea, while females mate with the males at sea and then go to the beach to dig a hole and lay their eggs. Female sea turtles may lay eggs several times during a single season.

Migration: Sea turtle migrations are extreme - with turtles sometimes traveling thousands of miles between cooler feeding grounds and warm nesting grounds. A leatherback turtle was reported in January 2008 to have undertaken the longest known vertebrate migration - over 12,000 miles (this was later surpassed by the Arctic tern, who was found to make a record 50,000-mile migration. The turtle was tracked by satellite for 674 days from its nesting area in Jamursba-Medi beach in Papua, Indonesia to feeding grounds off Oregon.

As more sea turtles are tracked using satellite tags, we learn more about their migrations and the implications their travels have for their protection - laws protecting sea turtles in one area may be inadequate if those rules don't apply where the turtles migrate.
Sea Turtle Conservation:
All seven species of sea turtles are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Threats to sea turtles today include the harvesting of their eggs for human consumption, entanglement and entrapment in fishing gear, ingestion of litter and coastal development.

•Defenders of Wildlife. 2008. Sea Turtles (Online). Defenders of Wildlife. Accessed October 26, 2008.
•Escambia County Extension. 2008. Types of Sea Turtles (Originally Found Online; as of 8/11, no longer active).

Manatee,  West Indian manatees are large, gray aquatic mammals with bodies that taper to a flat, paddle-shaped tail. They have two forelimbs, called flippers, with three to four nails on each flipper. Their head and face are wrinkled with whiskers on the snout. The manatee's closest relatives are the elephant and the hyrax (a small, gopher-sized mammal). Manatees are believed to have evolved from a wading, plant-eating animal. The West Indian manatee is related to the West African manatee, the Amazonian manatee, the dugong, and Steller's sea cow, which was hunted to extinction in 1768. The average adult manatee is about 10 feet long and weighs between 800 and 1,200 pounds.

Dugongs belong to the Mammalian Order Sirenia.  Sirens were mythological beings of the ocean that lured sailors to their deaths with beautiful singing.  Manatees and dugongs are supposed to have given rise to the mermaid legend, hence their designation in the order Sirenia.  This order also includes all species of manatees.  One may distinguish the dugong from the manatee species by its tail.  A dugong's tail is shaped like that of a dolphin.  A semicircular or crescent shape.  Manatees have a rounder, fully circular tail.  Also, unlike manatees, dugongs do not have toenails on their flippers.  The snout of the dugong is angled much more sharply than that of manatees.  Adult dugongs grow to about 11ft in length and reach weights of 2000lbs.  The dugong belongs to the family, Dugongidae.  The other member of this family was Steller's sea cow, which became extinct in 1768.  The dugong's scientific name is Dugong dugon, which is derived from duyong, the Malayan name for this animal.

Despite the dugong's aquatic appearance, it is not closely related to whales, dolphins, seals, or sea lions.  In fact, its closest relatives are elephants and hyraxes.  Like elephants and hyraxes, dugongs are herbivorous.  Sirenians are the only extant herbivorous marine mammals.


The dugong is the only ocean dwelling mammalian herbivore.  Manatees are primarily freshwater animals, occasionally venturing into saltwater regions.  The dugong lives throughout the coastal waters of the Indian Ocean.  The range extends north throughout the Philippines and Indonesia, southeast to the northern coast of Australia, and to the Red Sea and eastern coast of Africa.

Dugongs forage on a variety of seagrass species.  Seagrasses, which are marine flowering plants, are distinct from seaweeds, which are algae.  The dugongs feed primarily in shallow waters, digging into the seabed for seagrass rhizomes.  The rhizomes are the carbohydrate rich, underground storage roots of the seagrass.  Some dugong herds seasonally browse on bush-like seagrasses.  Lacking most teeth, dugongs masticate vegetation with rough pads on their upper and lower palates.  The amount of teeth present in a dugong's mouth are minimal.  A few molars are located in the back of the upper jaw, and a pair of incisors located in the front of the upper jaw.


Shy, yet curious creatures, dugong behavior is difficult to study.  Dugongs live in murky waters, and are difficult to observe underwater.  Their curiosity adds another problem to study.  When cautiously approached by divers, dugongs will approach, and a short investigation follows.  Natural behavior stops during these interactions.  Such curiosity would suggest that adult dugongs have few predators.  As shallow water animals, dugongs do not have the ability to submerge for long periods of time.  Nor do they possess advanced adaptations for speed, endurance, or agility.  Dense bones, thick skin, and rapidly clotting blood are a dugong's main defense.


 SEA OTTER    :  Enhydra lutris kenyoni

The sea otter is the largest member of the Mustelidae, or weasel family, and the only one which lives almost entirely in the water living up to 25 years of age, although the average lifespan is 8 to 12 years.

Sea otter being the smallest marine mammal, the average adult can be as large as 5 feet in length and weigh up to 70 lbs. The average length of an adult female is 4 feet and average weight is 60 lbs. At birth, sea otters weigh approximately 5 lbs and are 10 inches in length.

Color: Sea otter fur ranges from brown to almost black with guard hairs that may be silver, light brown, or black. As a sea otter ages, their hands and necks will lighten until almost white.

Fur: Sea otter fur is the finest of any mammal, consisting of 850,000 to 1 million hairs per square inch. Sea otters depend on these hairs to keep them warm while in the water. If a sea otter’s fur becomes soiled with foreign substances such as oil, the sea otter will not be able to keep itself insulated.


Consequently, sea otters spend much of their time cleaning and grooming their fur.

Behavior: Sea otters are social animals who may float together in groups of less than 10 to more than 100, called rafts. Usually these groups are separated by sex, females and pups spend time in one group and males in another. Otters usually swim on their backs but have been known to swim on their stomachs while traveling. Sea otters will only eat while they are floating, but may also groom, rest, and nurse their young. It is also common for sea otters to wrap themselves in kelp beds when resting or sleeping.

Body: Sea otters have long flat tails and since the majority of their time is spent in the water, webbed hind feet which are perfect for swimming. Retractable claws on a sea otter’s front paws allow the sea otter to grab food. Sea otters have round heads, small eyes, and visible ears.

Habitat: Sea otters are coastal, shallow water dwellers. Their habitat consists of two areas in these waters- the ocean floor where they find their food, and the ocean surface where they eat, groom, rest and social interactions occur.

Food Habits: Sea otters mainly eat benthic invertebrates such as clams, mussels, urchins, crabs, and fish. They must dive to capture their food, sometimes up to 250 feet. Sea otters also use “tools” such as a rock to open their hard-shelled prey. Adult sea otters can eat 25 to 30 percent of their body weight per day in order to stay warm. Feeding is a very important activity for sea otters, and occurs mainly in the morning and afternoon.

Life History: A sea otter becomes sexually mature at 3 to 6 years. A female’s pregnancy usually lasts 5 to 8 months and can have one pup per year. In Alaska, most pups are born during May and remain dependent on their mothers for 5 to 12 months.

Predators: Include humans, sharks, bears, eagles (on pups), and killer whales

Cleaning the Oceans helps protect our Endangered natural world.