Seal Skins, Fins and Fur
Seals live a schizophrenic lifestyle as both land and sea animals. Antarctic seals have two homes – one in the surrounding ocean and the other on a cool patch of ice or prime beach-front property.
Seals are remarkably adapted to ocean living. These aquatic mammals have powerful sleek bodies that are encased in blubber and taper down into a tail. Their thick no-neck physiques and loosely interlocked vertebrae make them strong and flexible enough to surf the waves and navigate ice and rocky shores.
Seals spend most of their lives in the water, but they also depend on land and ice for breeding and birthing. They “haul out” of the water onto the ice at certain times of the day for their terrestrial activities – which often include lounging and sleeping and occasional barking, bellowing and biting.
1. | Although not generally deep divers, foraging killer whales can dive to at least 100 m (328 ft.) or more. |
2. | The deepest dive known for a killer whale was performed under experimental conditions and was 274.3 m (900 ft.). |
4. | Transient whales in the eastern North Pacific sometimes show a similar breathing pattern as the residents, but they often stay submerged for more than 5 minutes and occasionally for more than 15 minutes in a single dive |
3. | In the eastern North Pacific, resident killer whales usually make three or four 15-second dives and then a dive that lasts about 3–4 minutes, repeating this pattern. |
1. | A killer whale breathes through a single blowhole on top of its head. |
| • | The blowhole is relaxed in a closed position. To open the blowhole, a killer whale contracts the muscular flap covering the blowhole. |
• | A whale holds its breath below water. |
• | A killer whale opens its blowhole and begins to exhale just before reaching the surface of the water. |
• | At the surface, the whale quickly inhales and closes the muscular flap. |