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harbor seal with mouth open
News Update

Put Your Marine Mammal Knowledge to the Test

April 1, 2021
  • Natural history

How well do you know marine mammals? Test your knowledge! Only one of the statements below is true. Can you guess which one, or will you be fooled? Click Show More + to find out!

harbor seal near shore
photo by John Beltran © The Marine Mammal Center

True or False: Harbor seal pups learn to swim at about one week old.

False! A newborn harbor seal pup can actually swim at birth, but sometimes they will ride on their mother’s back when tired. 

By about one month old, harbor seal pups are weaned from their mother, beginning life on their own. Sadly, some pups are separated from their mother much too early due to people and dogs getting too close, which can scare the seal mother away for good. That’s why during pupping season, our hospital is flooded with orphaned seal pups. 

See how you can help a harbor seal pup in need.

True or False: Sea otters have the thickest fur of any mammal. 

True! With 850,000 to 1 million hairs per square inch, sea otters are the furriest of any marine mammal.

Their fur actually consists of two layers that traps air next to their skin, preventing it from getting wet and protecting them from chilly ocean waters. Without blubber to protect them from the cold, sea otters rely on their thick fur, but if exposed to oil their fur loses its insulating qualities. 

You can help the next otter in need when you adopt a past patient.

sea otter floating on its back
photo © Brian Simuro
sea lion and elephant seal near water's edge
photo by Brian Simuro © The Marine Mammal Center

True or False: Sea lions can hold their breath for up to two hours at a time.

False! It’s elephant seals that can hold their breath and dive for up to two hours at a time.

At about one month old, elephant seal pups are weaned as their mothers return to sea. The pups then teach themselves to swim and find food by venturing into the water for short periods of time. But sometimes, strong storms sweep young pups off the beach before they are ready to be on their own. During pupping season, our hospital is flooded with orphaned seal pups. 

See how you can help an elephant seal pup in need.

Yes, I want to save a life!

Yes, I want to save a life!

You’ll be giving sick and injured animals the best possible care at the Center’s state-of-the-art hospital. With your gift today, you are giving a patient a second chance at life in the wild.

  • $35 You'll buy food for a hungry animal
  • $45 You'll provide life-saving medical care
  • $65 You'll make second chances possible

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natural history
Harbor Seal
California Sea Lion
Southern Sea Otter