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Thoughts of the sea generally bring to mind various types of fish. However, some of the most fascinating creatures swimming in the world’s oceans are actually mammals just like us humans. There are many traits and features that classify an animal as a mammal such as the presence of hair, the necessity to breathe air, and nursing young. While hair is not necessarily visible on marine mammal species such as whales and dolphins, they do in fact have some hair on their bodies.
There are four primary types of marine mammals, and they are cetaceans, pinnipeds, sirenians, and mustelids. Cetaceans include marine mammal species such as whales, porpoises, and dolphins. Pinnipeds encompass seals, sea lions, and walruses. Sirenians are likely the least common marine mammal species and include manatees and dugongs. Lastly, mustelids are home to different types of sea otters as well as other non-marine mammals such as weasels and manatees. Here at Harbor Breeze, we are big fans of marine mammals and that is why we’ve put together a common marine mammal species list. Below, we will discuss some of the most common marine mammals that we often see on our cruises.
Humpback whales are one of the most common marine mammal species we encounter on our whale watching cruises yearly. Each season, we generally have anywhere between 150- 350 humpback whale sightings on our cruises. Humpbacks are well known for their distinctive humped shape as well as being one of the most common breaching whales. Making them a fan favorite on our marine mammal species list.
Here in California, gray whales are almost always the most sighted whale species on our tours. In a whale watching season, we expect approximately 500 gray whale sightings on our tours. The average size of a gray whale is just under 50 feet with the females generally being slightly larger than the males. As to be expected, the gray whale garners its name from its dark gray color.
The common dolphin is a staple in the waters off the California coast. Here at Harbor Breeze, we have too many common dolphin sightings to even keep count! It is not unheard of to have sightings of over 1000 common dolphins in just one day on our tours. That many sightings make the common dolphin the most common marine mammal species on our list.
Not only are blue whales the largest animal on Earth today, they are also believed to be the largest animal to have ever existed! Blue whales can reach a length of almost 100 feet and exceed a weight of 300,000 pounds. Getting to see a blue whale off the coast of California is a real treat.
Fin whales are another of the most common cetaceans in the Pacific waters of California. In fact, they are generally the second most sighted whales on our tours. They are also the second-largest whale behind the blue whale. Fin whales generally grow to be around 60 feet in length and weigh around 100,000 pounds.
On Harbor Breeze tours, bottlenose dolphins are the second most common dolphin species that we encountered. Bottlenose are a much larger relative to the common dolphin and are generally what the average person envisions when they hear the word dolphin. Bottlenose dolphins are native to the majority of the world’s oceans and are quite popular here in California.
Sea lions are the first pinniped featured on our list and are indigenous to California and other Southern Pacific coast locations such as Baja, Mexico. Though sea lions live on a hybrid of land and sea, they are excellent swimmers and can swim up to speeds of 30 miles per hour.
Representing the mustelids on our list is the sea otter. Sea otters are common in the Northern Pacific, but can also be seen in some parts of Southern California. Compared to the other animals on our list, sea otters are much smaller with a maximum size of around 70 pounds.
Now that you’ve heard about some of the most common marine mammal species, your interest in getting out on the water and seeing some whales and other marine mammals for yourself has probably peaked. Well if you’re in the Los Angeles/ Long Beach area or planning to visit soon, Harbor Breeze Yacht Charters and Cruises is the perfect opportunity for you. As a top Los Angeles whale watching operator, our whale watching cruises take families out to sea on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, searching for the ocean’s most beautiful creatures – whales, dolphins, and sea lions included! For more information regarding times, prices, and more, please visit us online. We can’t wait to see you on board – book a cruise today!