Mammals

From whales and dolphins to seals and sea otters. Marine mammals are defined by their reliance on the ocean for food, along with mammalian characteristics such as hair and mammary glands. 

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Hawaiian Monk Seal

DIVE DEEPER

Backbone of Biodiversity at Risk

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature ( IUCN ) maintains the Red List of Threatened Species , an inventory...
Smithsonian scientists race the tide the excavate an ancient whale fossil entombed in rock

Fossil Whale Found, Excavated, Jacketed, and Returned to STRI!

A time-lapse video of the excavation of an extinct toothed whale on a Panamanian beach. Jorge and I packed up the night we arrived in Panama with Aaron O'Dea and his team from STRI...
A polar bear and her cub on the ice

Polar Bears: One Species at a Time

The Encyclopedia of Life brings us another installment of the podcast, One Species at a Time . In this podcast, host Ari Daniel Shapiro relates two close calls with polar bears. Listen as Heather...
two men each hold a ceramic vessel at the archaeological ex

Archaeologists Study Early Whaling Community in Quebec, Canada

For over a decade, Smithsonian's Arctic Studies Center archaeologist, William Fitzhugh, has been investigating an early European whaling site at Hare Harbor in Québec, Canada . The site has revealed important contact and trading...
Offshore Peru, during the Eocene (~56-34 million years ago), showing two archaeocetes (ancient whales): Ocucajea picklingi and Supayacetus muizon.

New Archaeocetes from Peru Are the Oldest Fossil Whales from South America

Offshore Peru, during the Eocene (~56-34 million years ago), showing two archaeocetes (ancient whales): Ocucajea picklingi (above) and Supayacetus muizoni (below). Credit: Carl Buell, http://carlbuell.com The evolution of whales represents one of the great...
Phoenix swimming with her calf.

Scientists Use Bioacoustics to Protect Marine Mammals

John Hildebrand discusses his research at the Scripps Whale Acoustic Lab on the FLIP platform. Marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, and seals have an amazing ability to hold their breaths—sometimes for up to...
Polar bears are threatened by a lack of sea ice.

Climate Change at the Poles

Polar bears are threatened by the loss of sea ice in the Arctic. Credit: K. Elliott, NOAA, Hidden Ocean 2005 At the ends of the Earth, life thrives despite extreme conditions. In the Arctic...
Polar bears are threatened by a lack of sea ice.

The Sant Ocean Hall: Life at the Poles Exhibit

Human activity is increasing in the Arctic marine environment due to climate change. To help the most vulnerable areas, the Global Marine Program of IUCN, along with partners, is convening a series of workshops...

Moby Dick's Boom Box: Sound Production in Sperm Whales

Dr. Stefan Huggenberger from the University of Cologne explains sound production in sperm whales in "Moby Dick's Boom Box: Nasal Complex of Sperm Whales," a presentation at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History...
An illustration of multispecies communities of dugongs from India, Mexico and Florida

The Discovery of Multispecies Communities of Seacows

This reconstruction illustrates multispecies communities of seacows from three different time periods and ocean basins. Each seacow represents a different extinct species of dugong. Credit: Carl Buell/ http://carlbuell.com/ Sirenians , or seacows, are a...
An illustration of a recently discovered species of Monodontid, Bohaskaia monodontoides, and its beluga and narwhale relatives

Smithsonian Scientists Describe a 'New' Fossil Whale

A reconstruction of a new fossil beluga relative, Bohaskaia monodontoides , described by Smithsonian scientists, is pictured in the foreground. Its living relatives, the beluga and narwhal, are illustrated left to right in the...
Nick Pyenson points to a skull and skeleton of a fossil whale.

Excavating a "toothed" baleen whale from Vancouver Island

Nick Pyenson, the Smithsonian's curator of fossil marine mammals, points to the skull and skeleton of a 23-25 million year old fossil "toothed" mysticete whale. Credit: NDP and J. A. Goldbogen/SI The whales that...
A researcher holds an arm bone from a "toothed" mysticete whale from Vancouver Island.

Dispatches from the Field: Treacherous stream crossings and a new fossil find

Nick Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, holds an arm bone from a "toothed" mysticete from Vancouver Island. Credit: J. A. Goldbogen Editor's note: Read Nick's...

Whale fossils on the mainland, and into a CT scanner

Gabor Szathmary secures one of the plaster jackets containing a fossil "toothed" mysticete that was excavated on Vancouver Island. After a few long days of hard work on the island, we were finally able...

Acrobatic Blue Whales Do the Twist While Feeding

Ari Friedlaender, a research scientist at the Duke University Marine Lab, tags a blue whale. Credit: Jeremy Goldbogen I have a vivid childhood memory of sitting under the Blue Whale model hanging in the...

Humpback Whales in Antarctica: What Are the Whales Doing?

A humpback whale breaching in Antarctic waters. Credit: Ari Friedlaender Humpback whales ( Megaptera novaengliae ) are the most abundant baleen whale in the nearshore waters around the Antarctic Peninsula. They, along with millions...
A polar bear and its cub in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Celebrating Marine Moms

The ocean is home to many moms of all shapes and sizes: from charismatic polar bears and dolphins to small fishes and shrimps and more. Learn about some of the diverse parenting habits of...

A Trip South to Antarctica’s Ross Sea

The Ross Sea, a 1.9 million square mile (3.6 million square km) stretch of ocean off the coast of Antarctica, has been nicknamed “ The Last Ocean .” And it’s not just a ploy...

Ice-Loving Seals and the Loss of Sea Ice

In 2011, storms and lack of ice-cover due to a warmer winter climate resulted in hundreds of seal pups being washed up on the shore of Prince Edward Island. Like many, this young seal...

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