The walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) is a large flippered marine mammal with a discontinuous distribution about the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean and subarctic seas of the Northern Hemisphere. The walrus is the only living species in the Odobenidae family and Odobenus genus. This species is subdivided into three subspecies: the Atlantic walrus (O. r. rosmarus) which lives in the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific walrus (O. r. divergens) which lives in the Pacific Ocean, and O. r. laptevi, which lives in the Laptev Sea of the Arctic Ocean.
Adult walruses are easily recognized by their prominent tusks, whiskers, and bulkiness. Adult males in the Pacific can weigh more than 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) and, among pinnipeds, are exceeded in size only by the two species of elephant seals. Walruses live mostly in shallow waters above the continental shelves, spending significant amounts of their lives on the sea ice looking for benthic bivalve mollusks to eat. Walruses are relatively long-lived, social animals, and they are considered to be a "keystone species" in the Arctic marine regions.
The walrus has played a prominent role in the cultures of many indigenous Arctic peoples, who have hunted the walrus for its meat, fat, skin, tusks, and bone. During the 19th century and the early 20th century, walruses were widely hunted and killed for their blubber, walrus ivory, and meat. The population of walruses dropped rapidly all around the Arctic region. Their population has rebounded somewhat since then, though the populations of Atlantic and Laptev walruses remain fragmented and at low levels compared with the time before human interference.
Pinnipeds, often generalized as seals,[a] are a widely distributed and diverse clade (a taxonomic group) of fin-footed, semiaquatic marine mammals. They comprise the extant families Odobenidae (whose only living member is the walrus), Otariidae (the eared seals: sea lions and fur seals), and Phocidae (the earless, or true seals). There are 33 extant species of pinnipeds, and more than 50 extinct species have been described from fossils. While seals were historically thought to have descended from two ancestral lines, molecular evidence supports them as a monophyletic lineage (descended from one ancestral line). Pinnipeds belong to the order Carnivora and their closest living relatives are bears and musteloids.
Seals range in size from the 1 m (3 ft 3 in) and 45 kg (99 lb) Baikal seal to the 5 m (16 ft) and 3,200 kg (7,100 lb) southern elephant seal, which is also the largest carnivoran.[b] Several species exhibit sexual dimorphism. They have streamlined bodies and four limbs that are modified into flippers. Though not as fast in the water as dolphins, seals are more flexible and agile. Otariids use their front limbs primarily to propel themselves through the water, while phocids and walruses use their hind limbs. Otariids and walruses have hind limbs that can be pulled under the body and used as legs on land. By comparison, terrestrial locomotion by phocids is more cumbersome. Otariids have visible external ears, while phocids and walruses lack these. Pinnipeds have well-developed senses—their eyesight and hearing are adapted for both air and water, and they have an advanced tactile system in their whiskers or vibrissae. Some species are well adapted for diving to great depths. They have a layer of fat, or blubber, under the skin to keep warm in the cold water, and, other than the walrus, all species are covered in fur.
Although pinnipeds are widespread, most species prefer the colder waters of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. They spend most of their lives in the water, but come ashore to mate, give birth, molt or escape from predators like sharks and killer whales. They feed largely on fish and marine invertebrates, but a few, like the leopard seal, feed on large vertebrates such as penguins and other seals. Walruses are specialized for feeding on bottom-dwelling mollusks. Male pinnipeds typically mate with more than one female (polygyny), although the degree of polygyny varies with the species. The males of land-breeding species tend to mate with a greater number of females than those of ice- or water-breeding species. Male pinniped strategies for reproductive success vary between defending females, defending territories that attract females and performing ritual displays or lek mating. Pups are typically born in the spring and summer months and females bear almost all the responsibility for raising them. Mothers of some species fast and nurse their young for a relatively short period of time while others take foraging trips at sea between nursing bouts. Walruses are known to nurse their young while at sea. Seals produce a number of vocalizations, notably the barks of California sea lions, the gong-like calls of walruses and the complex songs of Weddell seals.
The meat, blubber and fur coats of pinnipeds have traditionally been used by indigenous peoples of the Arctic, and seals have been depicted in various cultures worldwide. They are commonly kept in captivity and are even sometimes trained to perform tricks and tasks. Once relentlessly hunted by commercial industries for their products, seals are now protected by international law. The Japanese sea lion and the Caribbean monk seal have become extinct in the past century, while the Mediterranean monk seal and Hawaiian monk seal are ranked Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Besides hunting, pinnipeds also face threats from accidental trapping, marine pollution, and conflicts with local people.
Manatees (family Trichechidae, genus Trichechus) are large, fully aquatic, mostly herbivorous marine mammals sometimes known as sea cows. There are three accepted living species of Trichechidae, representing of the living species in the order Sirenia: the Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis), the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), and the West African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis). They measure up to 13 feet (4.0 m) long, weigh as much as 1,300 pounds (590 kg), and have paddle-like flippers. The name manatí comes from the Taíno, a pre-Columbian people of the Caribbean, meaning "breast".
Manatees comprise three of the four living species in the order Sirenia. The fourth is the Eastern Hemisphere's dugong. The Sirenia are thought to have evolved from four-legged land mammals over 60 million years ago, with the closest living relatives being the Proboscidea (elephants) and Hyracoidea (hyraxes).
The Amazonian's hair color is brownish gray and they have thick, wrinkled skin, often with coarse hair, or "whiskers". Photos are rare; although very little is known about this species, scientists think they are similar to West Indian manatees.
Manatees have a mass of 400 to 550 kilograms (880 to 1,210 lb), and mean length of 2.8 to 3.0 metres (9.2 to 9.8 ft), with maxima of 3.6 metres (12 ft) and 1,775 kilograms (3,913 lb) seen (the females tend to be larger and heavier). When born, baby manatees have an average mass of 30 kilograms (66 lb). They have a large, flexible, prehensile upper lip. They use the lip to gather food and eat, as well as using it for social interactions and communications. Manatees have shorter snouts than their fellow sirenians, the dugongs. Their small, widely spaced eyes have eyelids that close in a circular manner. The adults have no incisor or canine teeth, just a set of cheek teeth, which are not clearly differentiated into molars and premolars. These teeth are continuously replaced throughout life, with new teeth growing at the rear as older teeth fall out from farther forward in the mouth. This process is known as polyphyodonty and amongst the other mammals, only occurs in the kangaroo and elephant. At any given time, a manatee typically has no more than six teeth in each jaw of its mouth. Its tail is paddle-shaped, and is the clearest visible difference between manatees and dugongs; a dugong tail is fluked, similar in shape to a that of a whale. Females have two teats, one under each flipper, a characteristic that was used to make early links between the manatee and elephants.
Manatees are unusual amongst mammals in possessing just six cervical vertebrae, which may be due to mutations in the homeotic genes. All other mammals have seven cervical vertebrae, other than the two-toed and three-toed sloths.
Like horses, they have a simple stomach, but a large cecum, in which they can digest tough plant matter. In general, their intestines have a typical length of about 45 meters, which is unusually long for animals of their size. Manatees produce enormous amounts of gas, which contributes to their barrel-shape, to aid in the digestion of their food.
The coast of the state of Georgia is usually the northernmost range of the West Indian manatees because their low metabolic rate does not protect them in cold water. Prolonged exposure to water temperatures below 68°F (20°C) can bring about "cold stress syndrome" and death.
Florida manatees can move freely between salinity extremes.
Manatees have been seen as far north as Cape Cod, and in 2006, one was seen in New York City and Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay, as cited in The Boston Globe. According to Memphis, Tennessee's The Commercial Appeal newspaper, one manatee was spotted in the Wolf River harbor near the Mississippi River in downtown Memphis on October 23, 2006, though it was later found dead 10 miles downriver in McKellar Lake.
The West Indian manatee migrates into Florida rivers, such as the Crystal, the Homosassa, and the Chassahowitzka Rivers. The headsprings of these rivers maintain a 22°C (72°F) temperature all year. During November to March, about 400 West Indian manatees (according to the National Wildlife Refuge) congregate in the rivers in Citrus County, Florida.
During winter, manatees often congregate near the warm-water outflows of power plants along the coast of Florida instead of migrating south as they once did. Some conservations are concerned these manatees have become too reliant on these artificially warmed areas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to find a new way to heat the water for manatees that are dependent on plants that have closed. The main water treatment plant in Guyana has four manatees that keep storage canals clear of weeds; there are also some in the ponds of the National Park in Georgetown, Guyana.
Studies suggest Florida manatees must have some access to fresh water for proper regulation of water and salts within their bodies.
Accurate population estimates of the Florida manatee (T. manatus) are difficult. They have been called scientifically weak due to widely varying counts from year to year, some areas showing increases, others decreases and little strong evidence of increases except in two areas. Manatee counts are highly variable without an accurate way to estimate numbers: In Florida in 1996, a winter survey found 2,639 manatees, in 1997, a January survey found 2,229, and a February survey found 1,706. A statewide synoptic survey in January 2010 found 5,067 manatees living in Florida, which was a new record count.
Fossil remains of Florida manatee ancestors date back about 45 million years.