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Term Marine Mammals

Animals that live the majority or the whole of their lives adapted to the sea, yet breathe through lungs, and feed their young milk, just as other mammals.

Today, about 119 species exist throughout all the world’s oceans, generally subdivided into five groups: the Sirenia order, which includes manatees; the Cetacea order, which includes dolphins and whales; and the Carnivore order, which includes Pinnipedia (seals), Mustelidae (otter), and Mustelidae (polar bears).

At least 30 species of marine mammals are found in the Caribbean Sea. Of these, the Antillean manatees, dolphins and humpback whales are the best known in the Dominican Republic, as they constitute an important part of the country’s coastal and marine fauna.

For decades, humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) have been the country’s center of attention. Numerous scientific investigations and multiple conservation actions have taken place in this field. These animals come from feeding grounds in the North Atlantic: from Maine and Massachusetts in the United States, from Terranova in Canada, and from Greenland, and Iceland. In the winter, they arrive in the Caribbean, where courting, mating, and birthing of their young calves takes place. Of all the whales that make this journey from December through April, the majority are concentrated in the La Plata and La Navidad banks, which are located in the country’s Northern seas and in the Samaná bay. As a result, the country’s territorial waters contain the largest density of humpback whales in the world, representing an ideal environment for the reproduction of this species.1,2 Due to this unique positioning, in October of 1986, a marine mammal sanctuary was created on the La Plata and La Navidad banks.

1 Mattila, D.K.; Clapham, P.J.; Katona, S.K.; Stone, G.S. Population composition of humpback whales on Silver Bank. Can. J. Zool., 1989, 67, 281-285.

2 Mattila, D.K.; Clapham, P.J.; Vasquez, O.; Bowman, R.S. Occurrence, population composition, and habitat use of humback whales in Samana Bay, Dominican Republic. Can. J. Zool., 1994, 72: 1898-1907.


Additional Information
PhotoMarine Mammals
Topic  BiodiversityResources coastal / marine