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Marine Mammals

Mammals are a special group of animals with a combination of characteristics that separate them from all others: mammals are warm-blooded, have hair or fur, breathe air through lungs, bear live young, and nurse their young with milk produced by mammary glands.

Diving Mammals

Marine mammals have the same characteristics as all other mammals, but have adapted to living all or part of their life in the ocean. To keep warm in the ocean, most of them depend on a thick layer of blubber (or fat – like many humans!). They have streamlined bodies to help them swim faster. To be able to stay under water for long periods, they store extra oxygen in their muscles and blood but they do have to surface occasionally unlike their fishy friends. They also have more blood than land mammals in proportion to their body sizes, can direct their blood flow to only their vital organs (such as their heart and lungs), and can slow their heartbeat down so they are using less oxygen in a dive.

For those looking to swim or dive with some of the largest creatures in the oceans, there are some 120 varieties of ocean-dwelling mammal or ones that depend on the ocean for food with five main groups: pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, fur seals, and walruses), cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), sea otters, sirenians (dugongs and manatees), and polar bears. Probably of most interest to divers and non-divers alike are the cetacean species and encounters with these in our oceans are experiences never to be forgotten. 

Trips

Diving with whale sharks on Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia
Dive Ningaloo Reef
Australia

Ningaloo Reef, off the coast of Western Australia, is one of the few places on earth that at the right time of year you are guaranteed encounters with Whale Sharks.

Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique
Dive the Bazaruto Archipelago
Mozambique

The most striking feature of the Bazaruto Archipelago in Southern Mozambique is its remote untouched beauty.

Beautiful islands in Fiji
Dive Fiji by Liveaboard
Fiji

What better way to dive and explore the remoter parts of Fiji than on a liveaboard?

Pristine coral in Namena Marine Reserve in Fiji
Dive Vanua Levu
Fiji

The remote dive sites of Vanua Levu offer something for all divers.

Diving with sharks in Bora Bora
Dive Bora Bora
French Polynesia

Crystalline turquoise waters, pure white sand, swaying palms, cobalt blue sky… add to all this the colourful and exotic culture of the Polynesians, plus a twist of French, and you have something truly special.

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Quick Facts

Size
Ranges from the blue whale which can measure up to 30m (98ft) and weigh 180 metric tonnes, to the sea otter which can grow up to 5ft in length and weigh 70lbs

Life span
The bowhead whale is thought to live past 200 years!

Where to find them
Due to the variety of creatures in this group they can be found worldwide in open oceans and surface waters

Interesting fact
The gray whale migrates more than 10,000 miles each year, the longest migration of any mammal

Whale from the frontManateeDolphin from the side