Ocean of Hope

10 Endangered Ocean Animals: Happy Endangered Species Day!

Hector's Dolphin
Maui's Dolphin photo by WWF/Will Rayment

10 Endangered Marine Animals

1. Maui’s Dolphin: found off of New Zealand, only 55 individuals remain

2. Northern Right Whale: found in Atlantic Ocean, only 350 individuals remain

3. Vaquita: small dolphin found off of Baja Peninsula, Mexico, 500-600 remain

4. Mediterranean (less than 400 remain) and Hawaiian Monk Seals (approximately 1100 remain)

5. Sea Turtles: 6 or the 7 species of sea turtles are endangered (Green, Hawksbill, Kemp’s Ridley, Leatherback, Loggerhead, and Olive Ridley)

6. Staghorn Coral: has declined by 98% in the Caribbean since 1980

7. Beluga Sturgeon: hunted for their caviar (eggs), 1100 remain in the Caspian Sea

8. Coelacanth: an ancient order of fishes, considered the most endangered order in the world

9. Southern Sea Otter: up to 2,300 individuals remain

10. Bluefin Tuna: as few as 25,000 mature individuals remain

Disclaimer: There are hundreds of ocean species that are endangered (1,000’s if you consider the animals and plants we have yet to discover). I chose the top ten endangered species that I felt people might have heard of.

UPDATE: As of May 2015 less than 100 Vaquita remain

Sources: allaboutwildlife.com
World Wildlife Fund
Smithsonian Ocean Portal

10 More Amazing Sea Otter Facts

sea otter facts
Sea Otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

10 More Amazing Sea Otter Facts

1. Sea Otters, under the (United States) Endangered Species Act of 1977, are considered “threatened with extinction.” Sea otters technically are not an endangered species.

2. Sea Otters can dive up to 5 minutes, and average 60 feet deep (but can dive up to 300 feet).

3. Sea Otters were thought to be extinct from fur hunting until a raft of up 32 individuals was found off of Big Sur, California in 1938.

4. Sea Otter senses: good vision above and below water, acute sense of taste and smell, use paws to feel for prey, groom, and use tools, use whiskers to sense vibrations in the seawater.

5. Sea Otters wrap themselves and their pups up in kelp fronds while sleeping so they do not drift away.

6. Besides predators (humans, great white sharks, killer whales), up to 40% of southern sea otters die from disease and parasites. One prevalent parasite, Toxoplasma gondii is found in cat feces (don’t flush cat litter!).

7. Sea Otters are considered a keystone species, because they keep in check (by eating) the sea urchins that devour kelp (they also “help” mitigate global warming).

8. Sea Otters spend most of their day grooming, foraging, eating, and sleeping.

9. Sea Otters’ metabolic rate is 2-3x greater than other mammals their size (they must eat 25% of their body weight a day).

And the last sea otter fact is:
10. Sea Otters are related to skunks and weasels.

Please see previous post 10 Amazing Facts About Sea Otters
Most facts from seaotters.com

Sperm Whales Adopt Deformed Dolphin

Sperm Whales Adopt Deformed Dolphin into Family
Sperm Whale Pod adopts dolphin with deformed spine: photo by Alexander D.M. Wilson/Aquatic Mammals

Hi, I am a sperm whale, and no my name is not Moby Dick, nor am I all-white! I’m not sure whether I should laud Herman Melville for putting sperm whales at the pantheon of literature, or if I should curse him for making us look as lovable as a mosquito.

In any case, sperm whales have been in the news lately. First because humans have filmed a live giant squid in the ocean for the first time (see previous post), and recently the footage was shown on national TV. Humans seem to associate giant squid with us sperm whales. Our epic battles with giant squid are highly romanticized by humans, but we don’t mind! I have a few battle scars, but let me tell you, sperm whales win almost all the time. Squid may be intelligent for an invertebrate, but they are not a highly intelligent mammal. They also don’t have foolproof echolocation like I do!

The other reason sperm whales are in the news is because my pod recently “adopted” a dolphin with a deformed spine. I am not sure why his dolphin pod rejected him, but we are happy to have the fellow around. He is quite playful and joyful, and the calves enjoy his company. The calves especially like spending time with him when the adults go on deep dives to feed. Usually the calves are left at the surface with only one adult sperm whale.

We allow him to rub against us, as it means the same socially for sperm whales as it does for dolphins. In fact, dolphins technically are just small whales.

So why did we let this dolphin hang out with us? Well, life in the open ocean can get lonely and a bit monotonous as all we do on a daily basis is swim through open water, and dive deep to find food. So we make friends wherever we go, whether it is just in passing, or for longer terms, like with this dolphin fellow. We socialize a lot more than humans think, and just because they have never seen us do it doesn’t mean we don’t do it regularly!

Hmm, I’m getting hungry. Time to dive and dine!

This post based on this article

How Seals are Affected By Climate Change

seals climate change
Ringed seals are affected by climate change photo by Brendan Kelly/NSF

Ah, polar bears get all the attention because of the ice caps melting due to climate change! But there wouldn’t be any polar bears if us ice seals weren’t around to feed them! Not that I want to be polar bear lunch anytime soon! I hope us ringed seals will get more attention soon.

That may come true as the United States has listed 6 species of ice seals (2 bearded seals and 4 ringed seals) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This is good news because it is happening before any of those species are critically endangered. It also lends support to those who believe in climate change.

My life and the sea ice

I use the sea ice to breed, molt, give birth, and nurse my pup. Climate change will bring shorter ice seasons. That means that the ice cave that I build to keep my newborn pup safe and warm will be gone before my pup is ready to explore outside our den! Although increased snowfall is predicted during the rest of this century, much of it will before the seasonal ice forms. The snow will end of falling into the ocean instead of piling up on the ice! Also, increased rainfall will melt my snow den early.

So where does that leave me? Well, I will continue to do what I do so well, which is eat, swim, and reproduce, but the odds that my pup (or myself!) will survive is greatly reduced. Life in extremely cold environments is challenging in itself, but our food supply is dwindling because of overfishing and pollution. Sigh, I’d better get back to looking for food…and remember that seals are affected by climate change, and not just polar bears!

Also see how How Sea Otters Fight Climate Change
This post is based on this article at Scientific American

Right Whale Mother Adopts Orphaned Calf in Addition to Her Own Calf

”southern right whale
Mother right whale adopts orphaned calf: photo by African Wings

There is no sorrow greater than a mother’s when she has lost her babe. In my case, a calf. I am a Southern right whale, and I live off the Western Cape of South Africa. Recently I adopted a still nursing orphaned calf. This was in addition to my own calf, who is also still nursing. This is a highly unusual act because I am unrelated to this calf, and adopting him goes against all laws of nature.

I did not know this orphaned calf’s mother, and I wonder how she died. Did she die suddenly from a killer whale or human attack? Or was it something more insidious, like cancer from the myriad of toxic chemicals humans have dumped into the sea?

I tried to thwart the orphaned calf’s first few attempts to suckle, but soon my maternal instincts kicked in. I did what I hoped another right whale mother would do for me, which was to make sure that the calf I gave my life for survives to carries on my legacy. So I allowed this new calf to suckle. I could tell he had nursed for several months already, and he was very robust and playful.

My own calf and my adopted calf get along so well that I know I made the right decision. I feel so joyful watching them roll and play together. I also feel secure leaving them alone as they can protect each other. Usually mother and calf pairs are alone except for an occasional courting male.

Fortunately my reserve of blubber seems to be enough to nurse two calves. We are soon heading for our Antarctic feeding grounds, and I am hopeful that I will have enough milk before one of them weans!

I know that my kind was hunted almost to extinction, so I know that each right whale life saved is hope for the future.

This post was based on this article

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