The lack of a dorsal fin makes identification of Northern right whale dolphins easier.
Mammals are animals that are warm blooded, breathe with lungs, give birth to live young, nurse
their young, and have hair (at some point in their life). Three broad types of marine mammals are
represented within Olympic Coast waters: cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), pinnipeds
(seals and sea lions), and sea otters, one species of the weasel family.
A humpback whale breaches the surface.
are completely aquatic animals that breathe through nostrils (blowholes) on top of the
head. Cetaceans are divided into two groups - baleen whales (mysticetes) and the toothed whales.
(odontocetes). The most common baleen whales of the Olympic Coast are the California gray whale
and the humpback whale. The most common toothed whales of the Olympic Coast are the harbor
porpoise and the killer whale.
Steller sea lions can be found hauled out on rocky outcroppings or even buoys.
are carnivores that have adapted to life in the water and at the water's edge. They
forage at sea but most come ashore at some time of the year to mate, give birth, suckle their
young, or to molt. Pinnipeds are divided into two families: Eared seals or sea lions (otariids)
and the earless or true seals (phocids). Steller and California sea lions are representative
eared seals of the Olympic Coast. Harbor seals and elephant seals are the only earless seals of
the Olympic Coast.
Sea otters often float near the surface of dense kelp beds.
are members of the weasel family that have adapted to life almost entirely in the
water. Physically larger than river otters, sea otters also have short, paddle-like tails and
Follow this link to find out What to do if you find a stranded marine mammal
See a list of marine mammal species
in the sanctuary.
Contact for page content: Robert Steelquist