Our Beautiful World

North American Animals, Page 2 of 5

"Chorous" Subadult Northern fur seals on St. Paul Island.

On this page:

Northern fur seal, Callorhinus ursinus
Gray Seal, Halichoerus grypus
Bearded seal, Erignathus barbatus
Ribbon Seal, Phoca fasciata
Harbor seal, Phoca vitulina
Hawaiian Monk Seal, Monachus schauinslandi
Polar Bear, Ursus maritimus
Westindian Manatee, Trichechus manatus
Raccoon, Procyon lotor
Yellow-bellied Marmot, Marmota flaviventris

Mexican Ground Squirrel, Spermophilus mexicanus

If you forgot page one, you may click here.

On this page we start out with the seals and sea-lions and a few other interesting sea-animals to be found
in coastal waters of USA and Canada, including Alaska and the Aleutean Islands.

Marine Mammals
Creator: Hines, Bob

Read about the seals on Surtsey Island - the new volcanic island near Iceland

Northern fur seal, Callorhinus ursinus

Northern fur seal Bogoslof Island, Callorhinus ursinus
Photo: Morkill Anne

The northern fur seal, Callorhinus ursinus, is an eared seal found along the north Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea and the Sea
of Okhotsk. It is the largest member of the fur seal subfamily, Arctocephalinae, and the only species in the genus Callorhinus.

The northern fur seal is found in the north Pacific – its southernmost reach is a line that runs roughly from the southern tip of
Japan to the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea. There are estimated to
be around 1.1 million northern fur seals across the range, of which roughly half breed on the Pribilof Islands in the east
Bering Sea. Another 200–250,000 breed on the Commander Islands in the west Bering Sea, some 100,000 breed on
Tyuleni Island off the coast of Sakhalin in the southwest Sea of Okhotsk, and another 60–70,000 in the central Kuril Islands
in Russia. Smaller rookeries (around 5,000 animals) are found on Bogoslof Island in the Aleutian Chain and San Miguel
Island in the Channel Island group off the coast of California.

ARKive video - Northern fur seal - overview
Northern fur seal - overview
© BBC Natural History Unit

During the winter months, northern fur seals display a net movement southward, with animals from Russian rookeries regularly entering Japanese and Korean waters in the Sea of Japan and Alaskan animals moving along the central and eastern Pacific as far as Baja California.

The northern fur seal's range overlaps almost exactly with that of Steller sea lions, with which they occasionally cohabit reproductive rookeries, notably in the Kurils, the Commander Islands and and Tyuleni Island. The only other fur seal found
in the Northern Hemisphere is the Guadalupe fur seal which overlaps slightly with the northern fur seal's range in California.

Northern fur seal, mature bull, Callorhinus ursinus

Northern fur seals have extreme sexual dimorphism, with males being 30–40% longer and more than 4.5 times heavier than
adult females. The pelage is thick and luxuriant, with a dense underfur that is a creamy color. The underfur is obscured by
the longer guard hairs, although it is partially visible when the animals are wet. Features of both fore and hindflippers are
unique and diagnostic of the species. Fur is absent on the top of the foreflippers and there is an abrupt "clean line" across the
wrist where the fur ends. The hindflippers are proportionately the longest in any otariid because of extremely long, cartilaginous
extensions on all of the toes.

Males can be as large as 2.1 m and 270 kg. Females can be up to 1.5 m and 50 kg or more. Newborns weigh 5.4–6 kg,
and are 60–65 cm long.

The teeth are haplodont, i.e. sharp, conical and mostly single-rooted, as is common with carnivorous marine mammals
adapted to tearing fish flesh. As with most caniforms, the upper canines are prominent.

St. Paul Island Fur seal rookery, Pribilofs, Alaska
Photo: Angell, Bob

Fur seals are opportunistic feeders, primarily feeding on pelagic fish and squid depending on local availability. Identified fish
prey include hake, herring, lantern fish, capelin, pollock and mackerel. Their feeding behavior is primarily solitary.

Northern fur seals are preyed upon primarily by sharks and orcas. Occasionally, very young animals will be eaten by
Steller sea lions. Occasional predation on live pups by arctic foxes has also been observed.

Due to very high densities of pups on reproductive rookeries and the early age at which mothers begin their foraging trips,
mortality can be relatively high. Consequently, pup carcasses are important in enriching the diet of many scavengers,
in particular gulls and arctic foxes

Text about the Northern Fur Seal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_fur_seal

Gray Seal, Halichoerus grypus

Large group of gray seals, Halichoerus grypus, on beach at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Cod, MA
Photo: Shannon, Keith

The grey seal, Halichoerus grypus, meaning "hooked-nosed sea pig", is found on both shores of the North Atlantic Ocean.
It is a large seal of the family Phocidae or "true seals". It is the only species classified in the genus Halichoerus.
Its name is spelled gray seal in the US; it is also known as Atlantic grey seal and the horsehead seal.

In Great Britain and Ireland, the grey seal breeds in several colonies on and around the coasts. In the Western North
Atlantic, the grey seal is typically found in large numbers in the coastal waters of Canada and south to about New Jersey
in the United States. In Canada, it is typically seen in areas such as the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Newfoundland, the Maritimes,
and Quebec. The largest colony in the world is at Sable Island, NS. In the United States it's found year round off the
coast of New England, in particular Maine and Massachusetts, and slightly less frequently in the Middle Atlantic States.
Its natural range extends south to Virginia.

During the winter months grey seals can be seen hauled out on the rocks, islands, and shoals not far from shore, and
occasionally coming ashore to rest. In the spring the recently weaned pups and yearlings occasionally strand on beaches
after becoming "lost."

ARKive video - Grey seal hunting and feeding
Grey seal hunting and feeding
Video: Saint Thomas Productions, Audio: Master Tracks

It is a large seal, with the bulls reaching 2.5–3.3 m long and weighing 170–310 kg; the cows are much smaller, typically
1.6–2.0 m long and 100–190 kg in weight. Individuals from the western Atlantic are often much larger, with males reaching
400 kg and females weighing up to 250 kg. It is distinguished from the harbor seal by its straight head profile with nostrils that
are well apart, and fewer spots on its body. Bull Greys have larger noses and a more convex profile than common seal bulls.
Males are generally darker than females, with lighter patches and often scarring around the neck. Females are silver grey to
brown with dark patches.

The grey seal feeds on a wide variety of fish, mostly benthic or demersal species, taken at depths down to 70 mor more.
Sand eels, Ammodytes spp, are important in its diet in many localities. Cod and other gadids, flatfish, herring and skates
are also important locally. However, it is clear that the grey seal will eat whatever is available, including octopus (see video)
and lobsters. The average daily food requirement is estimated to be 5 kg , though the seal does not feed every day and it
fasts during the breeding season.

ARKive video - Grey seal colonies
Grey seal colonies
Video: Granada Wild & Green Umbrella Ltd.
Audio: Master Tracks, Granada Wild & Natural FX

The pups are born in autumn (September to November) in the eastern Atlantic and in winter (January to February) in the
west, with a dense, soft silky white fur; at first they are small and shrivelled-looking, but they rapidly fatten up to look like
over-filled barrels, from the extremely fat-rich milk they receive from their mothers. Within a month or so, they shed the
pup fur and grow the dense waterproof adult fur, and soon leave for the sea to learn to fish for themselves.
In recent years, the number of grey seals has been on the rise in the west and in Canada there have been calls for a seal cull.

Text about the Gray Seal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_seal

Bearded seal, Erignathus barbatus

Close view of a Bearded seal, Erignathus barbatus
Photo: Spindler, Mike, USFWS

The bearded seal, Erignathus barbatus, also called the square flipper seal, is a medium-sized pinniped that is found in and
near to the Arctic Ocean. It gets its generic name from two Greek words (eri and gnathos) that refer to its heavy jaw.
The other part of its Linnaean name means bearded and refers to its most characteristic feature, the conspicuous and very
abundant whiskers. When dry, these whiskers curl very elegantly, giving the bearded seal a raffish look.

Distinguishing features of this earless seal include square fore flippers and thick bristles on its muzzle. Adults are greyish-
brown in colour, darker on the back; rarely with a few faint spots on the back or dark spots on the flanks.
Occasionally the face and neck are reddish-brown. Bearded seal pups are born with a greyish-brown natal fur with scattered
patches of white on the back and head. The bearded seal is unique in the subfamily Phocinae in having two pairs of nipples,
a feature it shares with monk seals.

Bearded seal, Northern Bering Sea
Photo: Labunski, Liz

The bearded seal reaches about 2.1 m to 2.7 m in nose-to-tail length and from 200 kg to 430 kg in weight.
Both sexes are about the same size.

The bearded seal is a primary food source for the polar bear and for the Inuit of the Arctic coast. The Inuktitut name for
the seal is Ugyuk or Oogrook or Oogruk. The seal's skin is used to cover a wooden frame boat (Umiak).

The body fat content of a bearded seal is 30–40%.

ARKive video - Bearded seal - overview
Bearded seal - overview
Video: © BBC Natural History Unit
Audio credits: © Master Tracks & © BBC Natural History Unit

Primarily benthic, the bearded seal feeds on a variety of small prey found along the ocean floor, including clams, squid, and
fish. Its whiskers serve as feelers in the soft bottom sediments. Adults tend not to dive very deep, favoring shallow coastal
areas no more than 300 m deep. Pups up to one year old, however, will venture much deeper, diving as deep as 450 m.

The bearded seal gives birth in the spring. In the Canadian Arctic, seal pupping occurs in May. Further south, in Alaska,
most pups are born in late April. Pups are born on small drifting ice floes in shallow waters, usually weighing around 30–40 kg.
They enter the water only hours after they are born, and quickly become proficient divers. Mothers care for the pups for
18–24 days, during which time the pups grow at an average rate of 3.3 kg per day. During this time, pups consume an
average of eight liters of milk a day. By the time they are weaned, the pups have grown to about one hundred kilograms.

Text about the Bearded Seal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bearded_seal

Ribbon Seal, Phoca fasciata

Ribbon Seal, Phoca fasciata, in Northern Bering Sea
Photo: Labunski, Liz

The ribbon seal, Histriophoca fasciata, is a medium-sized pinniped from the true seal family Phocidae. A seasonally
ice-bound species, it is found in the Arctic and Subarctic regions of the North Pacific Ocean, notably in the Bering Sea
and Sea of Okhotsk. It is distinguished by its striking coloration, with two wide white strips and two circles against dark
brown or black fur. It is the only species in the genus Histriophoca

Adult seals are recognizable by their black skin, which carries four white markings: a strip around the neck, one around
the tail and a circular marking on each body side, which encloses the front fins. The contrast is particularly strong with the
males, while with females the difference in color between bright and dark portions is often less conspicuous.

Ribbon seal pup on the ice

Newborn ribbon seal pups have white natal fur. After moulting their natal fur, their color changes to blue-grey on their
backs and silvery beneath; after some years some portions become darker and others brighter, and only at the age of four
years does the typical design show.

The ribbon seal has a large inflatable air sac that is connected to the trachea and extends on the right side over the ribs.
It is larger in males than in females, and it is thought that it is used to produce underwater vocalizations, perhaps for
attracting a mate. The ribbon seal can grow about 1.6 m long, weighing 95 kg in both sexes.

Text about the Ribbon Seal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribbon_seal

Harbor seal, Phoca vitulina

Harbor seal, Phoca vitulina , and pup on Buldir Island
Photo: Byrd, Vernon

The harborseal, (or harbour seal), Phoca vitulina, also known as the common seal, is a true seal found along temperate
and Arctic marine coastlines of the Northern Hemisphere. They are found in coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and
Pacific Oceans, as well as those of the Baltic and North Seas, making them the most widely distributed of the pinnipeds (walruses, eared seals, and true seals).

Their global population is 5-6 million, but subspecies in certain habitats are threatened. Seal hunting or sealing, once a
common practice, is now illegal in many nations within the animal's range.

Harbor seal rests on the northern California coast
Photo: Blake, Tupper Ansel

Common seals are brown, tan, or gray, with distinctive V-shaped nostrils. An adult can attain a length of 1.85 meters
and a mass of 132 kilograms. Females outlive males (30–35 years versus 20–25 years). Common seals stick to familiar
resting spots or haulout sites, generally rocky areas (although ice, sand and mud may also be used) where they are protected
from adverse weather conditions and predation, near a foraging area. Males may fight over mates underwater and on land.
Females are believed to mate with the strongest males and generally bear a single pup, which they care for alone.
Pups are able to swim and dive within hours of birth, and they develop quickly on their mothers' fat-rich milk.
A fatty tissue layer called blubber is present under their skins and helps to maintain body temperature.

ARKive video - Common seal - overview
Common seal, Phoca vitulina - overview
BBC Natural History Unit

These seals are rather curious, so sea kayakers sometimes get the opportunity to see them close up. Seals also sometimes
swim along beaches, looking at beach walkers. The seals are wary of humans on land, however, and will enter the water
at any opportunity. They do not attack humans, though, whether on land or in the water. The seals can be very vocal,
especially in large groups, and are rather social animals.

With each individual possessing a unique pattern of fine, dark spots (or light spots on a dark background in some variants),
they vary in color from brownish black to tan or grey; underparts are generally lighter. The body and flippers are short,
with a proportionately large, rounded head. The nostrils appear distinctively V-shaped; as with other true seals, there is
no ear flap, or pinna. A relatively large (for a seal) ear canal may be visible behind the eye. Including the head and flippers,
they may reach an adult length of 1.85 meters and a weight of 55 to 170 kg. Females are generally smaller than males.

Harbor seal, Phoca vitulina, at Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge, MA.
Photo: Boyd, Amanda

With an estimated 5 million to 6 million individuals, the population is not threatened as a whole; most subspecies are secure
in numbers, with the Greenland, Hokkaido and Baltic Sea populations being exceptions. Local populations have been
reduced or eliminated through outbreaks of disease (especially the phocine distemper virus) and conflict with humans,
both unintentionally and intentionally, has also been linked to common seal declines.

While it is legal to kill seals which are perceived to threaten fisheries in the United Kingdom, Norway and Canada,
commercial hunting is illegal; the seals are also taken in subsistence hunting and accidentally as bycatch in fishing nets.
Bycatch by fishing nets (mainly in bottomset nets) along the Norwegian coast accounted for 48% of pup mortality.

In the United States, alternative protection applies and it is illegal to kill any seals or any marine mammals, as they fall
under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. On the East Coast of the United States, their numbers seem to be increasing
quite steadily, as they are reclaiming parts of their range, and have been seen as far south as Florida.

Female common seals have a life span of 30–35 years, while male life spans are usually 20-25.

Text about the Harbor Seal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harbor_seal

Hawaiian monk seal, Monachus schauinslandi

Hawaiian Monk Seal

The Hawaiian monk seal, Monachus schauinslandi, is an endangered species of earless seal in the Phocidae family that is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaiian monk seal is the only seal native to Hawaii.

They are solitary animals, like some monks. The Hawaiian monk seal is one of two remaining monk seal species; the other
is the Mediterranean monk seal. A third species, the Caribbean monk seal, is extinct.

These monk seals are a conservation reliant endangered species. The small population of about 1,100 individuals is
threatened by human encroachment, very low levels of genetic variation, entanglement in fishing nets, marine debris, disease,
and past commercial hunting for skins. There are many methods of conservation biology when it comes to endangered
species; translocation, captive care, habitat clean up, and educating the public about the Hawaiian monk seal are some
of the methods that can be employed.

Hawaiian Monk Seal and Pup

Known to native Hawaiians as 'Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua, or "dog that runs in rough water", its scientific name is from Hugo
Hermann Schauinsland, a German scientist who discovered a skull on Laysan Island in 1899. Its common name comes
from short hairs on its head, said to resemble a monk.

Its grey coat, white belly, and slender physique distinguish them from their cousin, the Harbor seal, Phoca vitulina.
The monk seal’s physique is ideal for hunting its prey: fish, lobster, octopus and squid in deep-water coral beds.
When it is not hunting and eating, it generally basks on the sandy beaches and volcanic rock of the NW Hawaiian Islands.

An endangered Hawaiian monk seal, Monachus schauinslandi, lays on the beach near two red-footed boobies.

Adult males are 140 to 180 kg in weight and 2.10 m in length while adult females tend to be slightly larger, at 180 to 270 kg
and 2.40 m feet in length. When monk seal pups are born, they average 14 to 18 kg and 1.0 m in length. As they nurse for
approximately six weeks, the grow considerably, eventually weighing between 68 to 90 kg by the time they are weaned,
while the mother loses up to 140 kg.

Text about the Hawaiian Monk Seal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaiian_monk_seal

Now, lets leave the seals, and look at one of their most dangerous predators:

Polar Bear, Ursus maritimus

Male polar bear near Kaktovik, Alaska
Photo: Regehr, Eric

The polar bear, Ursus maritimus, is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean,
its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear,
together with the omnivorous Kodiak Bear, which is approximately the same size.

ARKive video - Polar bear - overview
Polar bear - overview
Video: BBC Natural History Unit, Audio: Master Tracks

An adult male weighs around 350–680 kg, while an adult female is about half that size. Although it is closely related to the
brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrower ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold
temperatures, for moving across snow, ice, and open water, and for hunting the seals which make up most of its diet.
Although most polar bears are born on land, they spend most of their time at sea. Their scientific name means "maritime bear",
and derives from this fact. Polar bears can hunt their preferred food of seals from the edge of sea ice, often living off fat reserves when no sea ice is present. But the big question is what to do when no more ice around.....

Male Polar Bear on Pack Ice
Photo: Regehr, Eric

The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with eight of the nineteen polar bear subpopulations in decline.
For decades, large scale hunting raised international concern for the future of the species but populations rebounded after
controls and quotas began to take effect. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material,
spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples, and polar bears remain important in their cultures.

ARKive video - Polar bear hunting seal pup
Polar bear hunting seal pup
Video: BBC Natural History Unit, Audio: Master Tracks

The polar bear is found in the Arctic Circle and adjacent land masses as far south as Newfoundland Island. Due to the
absence of human development in its remote habitat, it retains more of its original range than any other extant carnivore.
While they are rare north of 88°, there is evidence that they range all the way across the Arctic, and as far south as
James Bay in Canada. They can occasionally drift widely with the sea ice, and there have been anecdotal sightings as
far south as Berlevåg on the Norwegian mainland and the Kuril Islands in the Sea of Okhotsk. It is difficult to estimate
a global population of polar bears as much of the range has been poorly studied; however, biologists use a working
estimate of about 20,000–25,000 polar bears worldwide.

A polar bear looks out over a barrier island on the Arctic coast of Alaska.

There are 19 generally recognized, discrete subpopulations. The subpopulations display seasonal fidelity to particular areas.
The thirteen North American subpopulations range from the Beaufort Sea south to Hudson Bay and east to Baffin Bay in
western Greenland and account for about 70% of the global population. The Eurasian population is broken up into the eastern
Greenland, Barents Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, and Chukchi Sea subpopulations, though there is considerable uncertainty
about the structure of these populations due to limited mark and recapture data.

ARKive video - Polar bear attacking walrus, drags off walrus pup
Polar bear attacking walrus, drags off walrus pup
Video: BBC Natural History Unit, Audio: Master Tracks & BBC Natural History Sound Library

The polar bear is often regarded as a marine mammal because it spends many months of the year at sea. Its preferred
habitat is the annual sea ice covering the waters over the continental shelf and the Arctic inter-island archipelagos.
These areas, known as the "Arctic ring of life", have high biological productivity in comparison to the deep waters of the
high Arctic. The polar bear tends to frequent areas where sea ice meets water, such as polynyas and leads (temporary
stretches of open water in Arctic ice), to hunt the seals that make up most of its diet. Polar bears are therefore found
primarily along the perimeter of the polar ice pack, rather than in the Polar Basin close to the North Pole where the
density of seals is low.

Annual ice contains areas of water that appear and disappear throughout the year as the weather changes. Seals migrate in
response to these changes, and polar bears must follow their prey. In Hudson Bay, James Bay, and some other areas,
the ice melts completely each summer (an event often referred to as "ice-floe breakup"), forcing polar bears to go onto
land and wait through the months until the next freeze-up. In the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, polar bears retreat each
summer to the ice further north that remains frozen year-round.

Polar Bear, Ursus maritimus, Female with Young along the Beaufort Sea Coastline of Alaska.
Photo: Susanne Miller

The polar bear is the largest terrestrial carnivore, being more than twice as big as the Siberian tiger. It shares this title with
the Kodiak Bear. Adult males weigh 350–680 kg and measure 2.4–3 m in length. Adult females are roughly half the size
of males and normally weigh 150–250 kg , measuring 1.8–2.4 metres in length. When pregnant, however, they can weigh
as much as 500 kg. The polar bear is among the most sexually dimorphic of mammals, surpassed only by the pinnipeds.
The largest polar bear on record, reportedly weighing 1,002 kg , was a male shot at Kotzebue Sound in northwestern
Alaska in 1960. The shoulder height of the polar bear is 130–160 cm.

Polar Bear Cubs, Ursus maritimus, in the snow,

The polar bear is the most carnivorous member of the bear family, and most of its diet consists of ringed and bearded seals. The Arctic is home to millions of seals, which become prey when they surface in holes in the ice in order to breathe, or when
they haul out on the ice to rest. Polar bears hunt primarily at the interface between ice, water, and air; they only rarely catch
seals on land or in open water.

The polar bear's most common hunting method is called still-hunting: The bear uses its excellent sense of smell to locate a
seal breathing hole, and crouches nearby in silence for a seal to appear. When the seal exhales, the bear smells its breath,
reaches into the hole with a forepaw, and drags it out onto the ice. The polar bear kills the seal by biting its head to crush
its skull. The polar bear also hunts by stalking seals resting on the ice: Upon spotting a seal, it walks to within 90 m,
and then crouches. If the seal does not notice, the bear creeps to within 9 to 12 m of the seal and then suddenly rushes
forth to attack. A third hunting method is to raid the birth lairs that female seals create in the snow.

Text about the Polar Bear: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_bear

Its not a seal, nor a bear, but then - what is it? A cow?:

Manatee, Trichechus manatus

Manatee underwater
Photo: Hagerty, Ryan

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 4.0 m long, weigh as much as 590 kg),
and have paddle-like flippers.

The West Indian Manatee, Trichechus manatus, is the largest surviving member of the aquatic mammal order Sirenia (which
also includes the Dugong and the extinct Steller's Sea Cow).

Manatee, Trichechus manatus
Photo: Powell, James A.

Like other manatees, the West Indian Manatee has adapted fully to an aquatic life style, having no hind limbs. Pelage cover
is sparsely distributed across the body, which may play a role in reducing the build-up of algae on their thick skin.
The average West Indian Manatee is approximately 2.7–3.5 m long and weighs 200–600 kg, with females generally larger
than males. The largest individuals can weigh up to 1,500 kg and measure up to 4.6 m. The Manatee's color is gray or
brown. Their flippers also have either 3 or 4 nails so they can hold their food as they are eating.

Manatee Rooting in Sand
Photo: Reid, Jim P.

As its name implies, the West Indian manatee lives in the West Indies, or Caribbean, generally in shallow coastal areas.
However, it is known to withstand large changes in water salinity, and so has also been found in shallow rivers and estuaries.
They can live in fresh water, saline water, and even brackish water. It is limited to the tropics and subtropics due to an
extremely low metabolic rate and lack of a thick layer of insulating body fat. In the winter, West Indian Manatees can be
found in Florida. During summer, these large mammals have even been found as far north as New York City, New York
and as far west as Texas.

Manatee, Trichechus manatus latirostris, swims near Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Notice all the small fishes below the Manatee
Photo: Ramos, Keith

The West Indian Manatee is surprisingly agile in water, and individuals have been seen doing rolls, somersaults, and even
swimming upside-down. Manatees are not territorial and do not have complex predator avoidance behavior, as they live
in areas without natural predators. The common predators of marine mammals, such as orcas and large sharks, are rarely
(if ever) found in habitats inhabited by this species.

The West Indian Manatee is an opportunistic feeder, with large adults consume 10% to 15% of the body weight in food daily.
Manatees feed on about 60 plant species which includes sea grasses as their major food source. They also consume some
fish and small invertebrates. Because manatees feed on abrasive plants, their molars are often worn down and are continually
replaced throughout life.

Two manatee rooting for food in bottom sand of Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
West Indian manatee , Trichechus manatus
Photo: Reid, Jim P.

The West Indian Manatee has a high casualty rate due to thermal shock from cold temperatures. During cold weather many
die due to their digestive tract shutting down at water temperatures below 20 °C. Many manatee deaths are caused by
large commercial vessels but are attributed to "recreational watercraft" due to the elimination of that classification.

West Indian manatee, Trichechus manatus
Manatee cow and calf swimming side-by-side in Crystal River.
Photo: Perrine, Doug

For more information about manatees visit http://www.fws.gov/northflorida/manatee/manatees.htm.

Text about the Manatee:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Indian_Manatee

We like those old drawing, and let's follow them a bit longer. We have looked at the bears, now the smaller animals:

Bears, raccoons, opossoms
Creator: Hines, Bob

The raccoon comes first:

Raccoon, Procyon lotor

Raccoon, Procyon lotor
Photo: Burton, Robert

The raccoon, Procyon lotor, (sometimes spelled racoon), also known as the common raccoon, North American raccoon,
northern raccoon and colloquially as coon, is a medium-sized mammal native to North America.

It is the largest of the procyonid family, having a body length of 40 to 70 cm and a body weight of 3.5 to 9 kg.
The raccoon is usually nocturnal and is omnivorous, with a diet consisting of about 40% invertebrates, 33% plant foods,
and 27% vertebrates. It has a grayish coat, of which almost 90% is dense underfur, which insulates against cold weather.
Two of its most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous front paws and its facial mask, which are themes in the
mythology of several Native American tribes. Raccoons are noted for their intelligence, with studies showing that they
are able to remember the solution to tasks up to three years later.

Photo: Hollingsworth, John and Karen

The original habitats of the raccoon are deciduous and mixed forests of North America, but due to their adaptability they
have extended their range to mountainous areas, coastal marshes, and urban areas, where many homeowners consider
them to be pests. As a result of escapes and deliberate introductions in the mid-20th century, raccoons are now also
distributed across the European mainland, the Caucasus region and Japan.

ARKive video - Northern raccoon hunting crayfish in stream
Northern raccoon hunting crayfish in stream
BBC Natural History Unit

Though previously thought to be solitary, there is now evidence that raccoons engage in gender-specific social behavior.
Related females often share a common area, while unrelated males live together in groups of up to four animals to maintain
their positions against foreign males during the mating season, and other potential invaders.

Home range sizes vary anywhere from 3 hectares for females in cities to 50 km2 for males in prairies. After a gestation
period of about 65 days, two to five young (known as a "kit", plural "kits") are born in spring. The kits are subsequently
raised by their mother until dispersion in late fall. Although captive raccoons have been known to live over 20 years, their
average life expectancy in the wild is only 1.8 to 3.1 years. In many areas hunting and traffic accidents are the two most
common causes of death.

Raccoon in a tree on the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge
Photo: Menke, Dave

Though usually nocturnal, the raccoon is sometimes active in daylight to take advantage of available food sources.
Since its diet consists of a variety of different foods, Zeveloff argues the raccoon "may well be one of the world's most
omnivorous animals".While its diet in spring and early summer consists mostly of insects, worms, and other animals already
available early in the year, it prefers fruits and nuts, such as acorns and walnuts, which emerge in late summer and autumn,
and represent a rich calorie source for building up fat needed for winter.

They eat active or large prey, such as birds and mammals, only occasionally, since they prefer prey that is easier to catch,
specifically fish and amphibians. Bird nests (eggs and after hatchlings) are frequently preyed on, and small birds are often
helpless to prevent the attacking raccoon. When food is plentiful, raccoons can develop strong individual preferences for
specific foods. In the northern parts of their range, raccoons go into a winter rest, reducing their activity drastically as long
as a permanent snow cover makes searching for food impossible.

Raccoon, Procyon lotor, in Crab Apple Tree, PA.
Photo: Buchanan, Bill

Raccoons sample food and other objects with their front paws to examine them and to remove unwanted parts.
The tactile sensitivity of their paws is increased if this action is performed underwater, since the water softens the horny
layer covering the paws. However, the behavior observed in captive raccoons in which they carry their food to a watering
hole to "wash" or douse it before eating has not been observed in the wild.

Captive raccoons douse their food more frequently when a watering hole with a layout similar to a stream is not farther
away than 3 m. The widely accepted theory is that dousing is a vacuum activity imitating foraging at shores for aquatic foods.
This is supported by the observation that such foods are doused more frequently. Cleaning dirty food does not seem to be
a reason for "washing". Experts have cast doubt on the veracity of observations of wild raccoons dousing food.
But why shouln't animals also have good behaviours?

Text about the Raccoon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raccoon

The Opossum is next, but it has gone to South America, so lets go on to other small animals:

Yellow-bellied marmot, Marmota flaviventris

Marmot (specimen?)
Creator Leupold, James C.

The marmots are a genus, Marmota, of squirrels. There are 14 species in this genus. We will discuss them later.

Marmots are generally large ground squirrels. Those most often referred to as marmots tend to live in mountainous areas
such as the Alps, northern Apennines, Eurasian steppes, Carpathians, Tatras, and Pyrenees in Europe and northwestern Asia;
the Rocky Mountains, Black Hills, Cascades, and Sierra Nevada in North America; and the Deosai Plateau in Pakistan and
Ladakh in India. The groundhog, however, is also sometimes called a marmot, while the similarly sized but more social
prairie dog is not classified in the genus Marmota but in the related genus Cynomys.

Marmots typically live in burrows (often within rockpiles, particularly in the case of the Yellow-bellied marmot),
and hibernate there through the winter. Most marmots are highly social, and use loud whistles to communicate with one
another, especially when alarmed.

Marmots mainly eat greens and many types of grasses, berries, lichens, mosses, roots and flowers.

Marmot (specimen?)
Creator Hickey, Bill

The yellow-bellied marmot, Marmota flaviventris, also known as the rock chuck, is a ground squirrel in the marmot genus.
Yellow-bellied marmots are generally small to medium sized. The post-hibernation weight of adults averages 3.9 kg for males
and 2.8 kg for females. The total body length is 47 -70 cm with a 13-22 cm long tail. Males tend to be longer in length than
females. Marmots have thick bodies and short broad heads. The dental formula is[2] .

Their ears are small and well furred. The feet have five digits with stoat and slightly curved claws.
The thumb is rudimentary but bears a nail. The palms of the paws have five pads with three at the base of the digits and the
posterior pad being oval in shape.The marmot has soft, dense somewhat woolly underfur, especially on the back and sides.
Its outer guard hairs are longer and coarser and cover the entire body. The overall color is yellowish brown to tawny and
has light tips and darker subterminal bands of many dorsal guard hairs giving it a frosted appearance.Marmots also have
distinct yellow speckles on the sides of their necks and white between their eyes. Coloration, however, can vary even within
subspecies. Partial or fully melanistic individuals are common in populations from the southern Rockies from Wyoming to
New Mexico.

Text about the Yellow-bellied Marmot: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow-bellied_Marmot

Mexican Ground Squirrel, Spermophilus mexicanus

Mexican Ground Squirrel on the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Ditto, Larry

The Mexican Ground Squirrel, , is found from extreme southeastern New Mexico through western
and central Texas, south to Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas (Mexico). There is disjunct population in central Mexico.

A rather small ground squirrel with usually nine rows of squarish white spots on back; tail about two-fifths of total length,
moderately bushy; ears short and rounded; upperparts wood brown or buffy brown with rows of conspicuous white spots;
sides and underparts whitish or pinkish buff. External measurements average: total length, 30 cm; tail, 12 cm; hind foot, 4cm.. Weight, (males) 227-330 g; 137-198 g.

Mexican ground squirrels inhabit brushy or grassy areas. In southern Texas, they are frequently associated with mesquite
and cactus flats. In Kerr County, they are most common in pastures and along the highways; in Trans-Pecos Texas,
they are frequently found in areas dominated by creosote-bush

Their food in early spring is chiefly green vegetation. They are known to feed on mesquite leaves and beans, agarita leaves
and berries, Shasta lily, Johnson grass, pin clover, and cultivated grains. Insects also contribute importantly to their diet.
In early summer about half of their diet is insects. They are fond of meat and frequently can be seen feeding upon
small animals killed on the highways.

Text about the Mexican Ground Squirrel: Mammals of Texas, http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/tmot1/spermexi.htm

That brings us to the end of page 2 of this North American Wildlife tour.
As per February 21st, 2012, the next 3 or more pages are not yet ready,
but you may try page three right now.

All pictures, if nothing else is mentioned, are taken from U.S.Fish & Wilflife Service,
National Digital Library at http://digitalmedia.fws.gov

They are all in public domain.


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