What Is A Pinniped, Where Is it Found And How We Can Help Them | Kidadl


What Is A Pinniped, Where Is it Found And How We Can Help Them

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Seals, sea lions, and walrus are known to be species of aquatic fin-footed mammals known as pinnipeds.

Pinnipeds can only be found in a few inland or tropical freshwater systems, as well as in rich marine settings. True seals, or earless seals, primarily use their hind flippers, whereas fur seals and sea lions from the Otariidae pinniped family and walrus use their large forearms for movement.

Despite their huge size, all species of pinniped are quick and can catch fish in open water. Pinnipeds are visual predators with great hearing, especially underwater, despite the fact that pinnipeds lack external ear flaps. After reading about the history of pinniped populations and how they have adapted to be near perfect for a polar habitat range, also check out that are seals dangerous and are seals related to dogs?

Are pinnipeds an order?

Pinnipeds are from the order Carnivora.

Did you know that the close relatives of pinnipeds are bears? Approximately 40 million years or so ago, pinniped was known to belong to the superfamily of weasels, red panda, and many more.

Identifying A Pinniped

Pinnipeds feature two sets of limbs, fore flippers, and hind flippers. Pinnipeds have long facial hair and a nose opening on the snout. Pinnipeds tend to have reduced ear flaps.

Pinniped pups in most species are born with a lanugo coat. This coat on pinniped pups differs in color and length for adult or young pinnipeds. Pinniped is identified on the subtle shading often seen on hauled-out pinnipeds. Pinnipeds have a wide torso and short hinds. Pinnipeds are really shy on the land surface but swim smoothly in the water.

Pinnipeds are highly intelligent aquatic carnivores that are in various marine and freshwater settings.

Why are they called that?

Seals are known to be semi-aquatic mammals. These seals are of a group named pinnipeds which literally means 'fin-footed.' While the walrus may be a member of this pinniped group, they are from a different taxonomic pinniped family.

For example, true seals are from the Phocidae pinniped family. On the other hand, sea lions come are from the Otariidae family. Walruses belong to the Odobenidae family.

External ear flaps are absent in true seals, although they are present in ear seals. True seals walk on land in an up and down undulating manner with their back flippers pointed backward.

Fur seals and sea lions may rotate their hind feet and use them to accelerate their movement. Their dense fur, which traps air and keeps them warm, also gives them their name. True seals have very little hair and rely on fat to keep warm.

Did you know that a manatee, that looks really similar to a pinniped is actually not a pinniped? A Manatee is considered to be related to elephants.

Where do pinnipeds live?

Pinnipeds are predators that have been living in the sea as amphibians. Pinnipeds eat at sea, but most of the pinnipeds come onshore during the year to mate, give birth, and to nurse their young pups.

Pinnipeds are found on ice, in tropical areas, and in coastal waters. Pinnipeds can migrate or stay stationary. Pinnipeds tend to feed on a variety of prey whole or in parts, and are opportunistic feeders. Marine mammals (example, pinnipeds) and humans have certain similar physiological qualities like large blood capacity and a low heart rate. These qualities help the pinnipeds when they are diving deep under the water.

Populations of pinnipeds have adapted to the polar life and hunting among adverse conditions.


Taxonomic Relationships Of Alaska Pinniped Species

The pinniped species are divided into three families in Alaskan waters respectively. The various pinniped species are called, Otariidae, Phocidae, and Odobenidae.

The Otariidae pinniped family has three subspecies namely, Steller sea lion, California sea lion, and the Northern fur seal.

The phocids pinniped family has six subspecies, Northern elephant seal, Harbor seal, Bearded seal, Ribbon seal, Spotted seal, and the Ringed seal.

The third pinniped family is known as Odobenidae that features the Pacific walrus.

Family Characteristics Of Alaska Pinnipeds

There are three types of groups of pinnipeds in Alaska waters, phocids, otariids, and odobenids.

Earless seals or phocids: the external ear flaps are not visible in phocids or the earless seal species. Earless seals or phocids tend to have short necks on land. Though phocids can swim extremely well, earless seals cannot move well on land. And this is why phocids crawl like a caterpillar by pushing and pulling their body.

In adolescent phocids, sexual dimorphism is uncommon (only seen in elephant seals); males and females are almost the same in size and shape. Phocids tend to breed inside the water, but not on the land.

Eared seals or otariids: Otariids have elongated necks and prominent external ear flaps. Otariids pinniped pushes forward with front legs and steer with their hind flippers. Male otariids are two times larger than female otariids. Otariids or eared seals are quick on land, because of their ability to retract their back flippers while extending the front flippers.

Walrus: Walruses belong to the odobenids, a separate family of the pinniped. Males and females have long teeth and jaws to eat shellfish from the floor of the ocean. Walruses possess air passages on their necks that can inflate, allowing them to float like life vests.

Male walruses have a weight of approx 2500 lb (1134 kg). This makes walruses the largest pinnipeds out of many. These pinnipeds reside in the arctic region, in the Northern Atlantic and Pacific waters.

Pinniped Research At The Marine Mammal Center

There has been extensive research about pinnipeds done by the marine mammal center. The marine mammal center has conserved more than 20,000 marine mammals. The marine mammal center is an environmental and educational research center for marine mammals like pinnipeds, cetaceans, and more. They advance the conservation of the global ocean via rescue or rehabilitation.

There are California sea lions, northern elephant seals, Hawaiian monk seals, northern fur seals, Guadalupe fur seals, and Stellar sea lions that the marine mammal center is continuously helping in conserving.

California sea lions are intelligent and playful. These California sea lions are found in Vancouver island and many other places. These California sea lions breed off the shore.

Northern elephant seals are named so as the male elephant seals have a large nose which is similar to that of an elephant. The elephant seal is found on the north side of the Pacific and the Gulf of the Pacific. The elephant seal is a success story in conservation according to the marine mammal center.

The monk seal is an endangered species of seals and sea lions in the US. Did you know that the ancient name of monk seal is 'llio holo l ka uaua' which means the 'dog that runs in rough water'? Monk seals usually spend their time on islands or offshore. The marine mammal center is working on conserving monk seals and results have been promising.

Northern fur seals typically spend time in the open ocean. Northern fur seals were prey for their fur. The fur seals became endangered but are now protected by the marine mammal protection act.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for pinniped then why not take a look at seal vs sea lion, or walrus facts?

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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