What are Pinnipeds?

Pinnipeds are marine mammals that live mostly in the water but also spend time on land or ice when resting or breeding. Pinnipeds are found in polar, sub-polar and temperate waters. Pinniped, which means "Fin Foot" in Latin, includes the seals, sea lions, and walrus. There are three families of pinnipeds, Phocidae (true seals), Otariidae (fur seals and sea lions), and Odobenidae (walrus). Phocidae includes nineteen species known as the true seals. They have no external ear flaps, small fore flippers, and large hind flippers. Otariidae includes fourteen species of sea lions and fur seals. Unlike true seals, they have external ear flaps as well as larger fore flippers and hind flippers that have the ability to turn allowing for easier mobility on land. Odobenidae, which includes only one species of walrus, have no external ear flaps and like sea lions and fur seals they can turn their hind flippers around.

Pinnipeds have a thick layer of insulating blubber that keeps them warm in cold water. They also have a large amount of hemoglobin and myoglobin, the oxygen carrying substances in the blood, which allows them to be well supplied with oxygen for their long underwater dives. Their diet includes fish, crustaceans, birds, and krill. Seals, sea lions, fur seals, and walrus all give birth on land, generally to only one pup. They are born with open eyes and flippers they can use. Pinnipeds can live to be twenty years of age