21 January 2013

Are you a dolphin? No I'm a whale...

Photo from the 11th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals

Wild animals are free-ranging, traveling hundreds of miles just to feed, mate, calve, and even to socialize. Worldwide, there are 124 marine mammal species belonging to the three main groups namely: Cetacea (83), Pinnipedia (36), and Sirenia (5).[1] These animals vary in size, shape, color, habitat and behavior, making them distinct from one another as seen in the picture above. It can be a wonder how else can we decipher which is which especially when we see them in the wild.

Photo from Baker (1999) [2]

For whales we can look at the direction and shape of their blows. While for other cetaceans and sirenians, we can take note of their habitat and behavior. To know more about the common behaviors of marine mammals, click here.

[1] Rice, D.W. (1998) Marine Mammals of the World Systematics and Distribution. Special Publication number 4: The Society for Marine Mammalogy. 231p.

[2] Baker, A.N. (1999) Whales and dolphins of New Zealand and Australia: an identification guide. Wellington: Victoria University Press, pp. 42–43.

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