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Many people love seals and sea lions, and it's easy to see why: they’re playful, adorable, and quite photogenic. But what is the difference between seals and their cousins the sea lions? Both have...
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Humpback whales ( Megaptera novaengliae ) are the most abundant baleen whale in...
In the late 1990's, researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (...
Killer whales ( Orcinus orca ) are master hunters, using speed, camouflage, and...

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Bottlenose dolphins ( Tursiops truncatus ) are very social animals, and often travel and hunt in groups called pods. The most common is a nursery group of 5-20 dolphins made up of females and their calves—although occasionally...
The North Atlantic right whale is one of the world's largest animals, but...
A 2010 study of IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species found that one-fifth...

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Stretching up to 16.8 meters (55 feet) long and weighing up to 62 tons (70 tons), the North Atlantic right whale is one of...
There are more than 500 species of sharks swimming in the world’s ocean. Yet when most people think of these cartilaginous fish, a single image comes to mind: a large, sharp-toothed and scary beast...
A Grey Seal ( Halichoerus grypus ) poses in the waters off Acadia National Park in Maine. Grey seals live on both coasts of the Northern Atlantic, with breeding colonies in Great Britain, Ireland,...
A team from the Center for Coastal Studies works to free a one-year-old right whale from the fishing ropes wrapped and knotted around its body and flippers. The whale is Kingfisher, #3346 in the...
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was signed into law on December 28, 1973 by President Nixon. Over 2,000 species are currently on the ESA, and they are separated into "Threatened" and "Endangered"...
A life-size, meticulously detailed model of the North Atlantic right whale Phoenix hangs in the Smithsonian’s Sant Ocean Hall in the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC. More about...
Polar bears are threatened by the loss of sea ice in the Arctic . They walk for miles on the ice shelves to access different parts of the sea to hunt seals and other food. But as the ice melts as the...
A right whale opens its mouth wide, revealing huge plates of baleen hanging from its upper jaw. There are between 200 and 270 baleen plates on each side of a right whale's upper jaw. They work like a...
Phoenix swims in George’s Bank, off the coast of New England, on March 13, 2009. More about whales can be found in our Tale of a whale featured story .
Lying on the ice with a few friends is not an unusual way to spend time for walruses, who tend to be sociable animals. Their groups can range from tens to thousands. Each individual herd has a...
Rachel Caauwe was one of a dozen artists who spent a recent Saturday sketching specimens from the Smithsonian's musky-scented marine mammal collection . Here she's shown drawing the remains of a...
The polar bear ( Ursus maritimus ) is found in the Arctic and classified as a vulnerable species by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This marine mammal can swim more than 30 miles when sea...
Polar bears have evolved to survive in the Arctic with large, oar-like front paws for better swimming, as well as insulating blubber, and two layers of fur for the frigid temperatures. They rely on...
Sirenians , or seacows, are a group of marine mammals that include manatees and dugongs. In the modern ocean, only one species of seacow is found in each world region, however, the fossil record...
Florida Manatee ( Trichechus manatus latirostris ) swimming within a fresh water spring on Crystal River in Florida. Note the tree roots on the right of the frame which make up a portion of this...
How do right whales size up? North Atlantic Right whales ( Eubalaena glacialis ) are big, but they're not the biggest whales. That distinction goes to the Blue whale ( Balaenoptera musculus ), the...
The Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino site in Mexico was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993. The sanctuary contains important breeding and wintering sites for the grey whale ( Eschrichtius...
A model marker applies paint to the life-size, meticulously detailed model of the North Atlantic right whale Phoenix which today is on exhibit in the Smithsonian’s Sant Ocean Hall in the National...
January 14, 1987: Phoenix is first spotted as she swims with her mother, Stumpy, off the coast of Georgia. More about right whales can be found in our Tale of a whale featured story .
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