Marine mammals

Two images on Facebook recently: a Sandra Boynton drawing for Manatee Appreciation Day (March 25th, yesterday); and a wordless cartoon (on the “Mermaid Melissa” site, artist uncredited) picturing a narwhal as a unicorn in disguise):



(#2 has an actual narwhal for comparison.)

From Wikipedia on marine mammals:

Marine mammals, which include seals, whales, dolphins, porpoises, manatees, dugongs, otters, walruses, and polar bears form a diverse group of 129 species that rely on the ocean for their existence. They do not represent a distinct biological grouping, but rather are unified by their reliance on the aquatic environment for feeding.

… Marine mammals can be subdivided into four recognised groups; cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), pinnipeds (seals, sea lions and walruses), sirenians (manatees and dugongs), and fissipeds, which are the group of carnivores with separate digits (the polar bear, and two species of otter). Both cetaceans and sirenians are fully aquatic and therefore are obligate ocean dwellers. Pinnipeds are semiaquatic; they spend the majority of their time in the water, but need to return to land for important activities such as mating, breeding and molting. In contrast, both otters and the polar bear are much less adapted to ocean living.

Manatees. #1 has a cartoon manatee. Here’s one in real life:


From Wikipedia:

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 three of the four 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).

(Boynton drawings previously on this blog: 1/20/14, #2; 3/4/14; 12/8/14 two drawings.

Narwhals. On this blog on 1/15/15, discussion of the narwhal, a tusked whale. Here’s another one swimming:


Bonus: a cartoon whale. Here’s a Benjamin Schwartz cartoon from the New Yorker of 12/2/13, showing a boy hitting the giant blue whale in the Museum of Natural History like a piñata:


(Schwartz previously on this blog: 5/18/14 , #2 on Canadian eh; 6/20/14 on emoticons.)

Pinnipeds. So much for sirenians and cetaceans. Now on to pinnipeds. Here’s a Mischa Richter cartoon from the New Yorker of 7/19/93, showing two walruses watching a group of penguins advancing:


Marine mammals face marine birds.

(Richter on this blog: one cartoon on 4/4/13, with information on the artist.)

Finally, fissipeds. In particular, polar bears. Here’s a Benjamin Schwartz New Yorker cartoon of 2/17/14, with two polar bears eating spaghetti and meatballs, when one of them spills sauce on his stomach:


Leave a Reply