Marine Mammals, Extinctions of

  • VanBlaricom G
  • Gerber L
  • Brownell Jr R
  • 32


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The marine mammals include one extinct order and three major extant taxa that were or are fully aquatic, in most cases occurring entirely in the marine habitats of the major ocean basins and associated coastal seas and estuaries.I n addition, a fews pecieso f largelyt errestrial taxa are currently regarded as marine mammals. We consider In recent mammal species in total to be marine mammals for purposes of this review. We acknowledge that species numbers within any taxon are subject to revision as new systematic methods and philosophies emerge. Our primary bases for defining our list of marine mammal species are the protocols of the U.S. federal government, determined largely by t.~e u.s. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972 [16 U.S.C. §§1361-62, 1371-84.. and 1401-07 (Supp. IV 1974)] as amended (MMPA) and managed by two u.s. federal agencies, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Our choice of defining criteria is arbitrary. Our principal source for taxonomic nomenclarure,including commonn ames,is the recentr eviewo r Rice (1998). The order Cetacea includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises (Table I). The "pinnipedia" is a group of speciesin three families in the mammaliano rder Carnivora (Table I). The pinnipeds include the seals, fur seals, sea lions, and walrus. The term pinnipedia is no longer reco~ed formally by marine mammal taxonomists, but it continues to appear in the systematic vernacular as a matter of tradition and convenience. The order Sirenia includes the extant manatees and dugong and the extinct Steller's sea cow (Table I). The order Desmostylia is the only recognized order of marine mammals to become entirely extinct.

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  • Glenn R VanBlaricom

  • Leah R Gerber

  • Robert L Brownell Jr

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