Maggie Prevenas, April 20, 2007


NOAA Teacher at Sea
Maggie Prevenas
Onboard US Coast Guard Ship Healy
April 20 – May 15, 2007

Mission: Bering Sea Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Alaska
Date: April 20, 2007

Species Profiles

Bald Eagle: Haliaeetus luecocephalus

When I walked around the back of the hotel in Dutch, I surprised a big ‘ol bald eagle dumpster diving with three of

Bald eagle (Credit: Michele Brustolon)

Bald eagle (Photo by TAS Michele Brustolon)

his raven friends. Later I found out the ravens were not really his friends. They tricked him into surrendering his meal! Bald Eagles play an important role in this ecosystem. They are scavengers, not only in Nature, but out of garbage dumps too.

The eagle is called ‘bald’ because of white feathers on their heads. Its yellow eyes and beak stand in contrast to its dark brown body. Eagles can reach flight speeds between 35 and 44 miles per hour.

How big are bald eagles?

The bald eagle is 32 to 40 inches long with a wingspan of 6 to 8 feet. Males are smaller than females.

How many Bald Eagles are alive today?

80,000 to 110,000 eagles exist in the wild. There are 4,500 breeding pairs in the lower 48 states.

How long do they live?

Over 30 years in the wild. They live longer in captivity because they have a better diet and are protected.

Where do they live?

Bald Eagles live in Canada, Alaska and lower 48 states. They like to hang out in forests, valleys, mountain regions, lakes, rivers and along waters’ edge.

They build nests in the limbs of tall trees. Their nests are used year after year with new additions of mosses and sticks. Nests can reach 5 feet across, 2 feet high and weigh 4,000 pounds!

What do they eat?

Bald eagles eat fish, waterfowl, and small to medium mammals. They kill their prey with their talons (feet and claws) and use their beaks for tearing flesh. They are scavengers that will eat anything from dead fish, to road kill, and dumpster food.

How do they reproduce?

Bald Eagles often mate for life. Once paired, the female lays two eggs in the spring. After 35 days, one or two chicks hatch. If two are hatched, usually only the chick that is more aggressive, and takes most of the food, survives. At 15 weeks of age, the young permanently leaves the nest.

What threats do they have?

Bald Eagles have lost their homes to humans in many coastal areas. Since they scavenge (eat dead or decaying food) heavy metals and other poisons can concentrate in their body and kill them.

Did you know?

Bald eagles can swim! They use an overhand movement of the wings that is very much like the butterfly stroke.

Most all of the information for this creature feature was taken directly from:

http://www.kidsplanet.org/factsheets/bald_eagle.html Word for word, just copied and pasted. I’d like to credit them for writing and researching it. You can find lots more information there too! Make sure you give them credit if you are using this information for reference!

NOAA Ocean Explorer: Northwestern Hawaiian Islands 2002

Hawaiian Monk Seal, NOAA Ocean Explorer: Northwestern Hawaiian Islands 2002

Hawaiian Monk Seal: Monachus schauinslandi

Since I am going to be learning a lot more about ice seals, I thought that I’d do a creature feature on the Hawaiian Monk Seal so when the time comes, you will be able to compare and contrast them.

The Hawaiian monk seal has a streamlined body to aid in swimming. Their front and back limbs are flipper-like. The front flippers are smaller than the back flippers. The front flippers have five fingers. The hind flippers cannot be turned forward, so they must wiggle when on land. In the water, they propel themselves by moving the hind flippers and use their front flippers as rudders. They are dark gray on their backside and silvery gray on their stomachs.

How big are monk seals?

Males are approximately seven feet long and weigh about 400 pounds. Female Hawaiian monk seals are larger than males, up to 7.5 feet long and weigh up to 600 pounds.

How many monk seals are alive today?

The population is estimated around 1300.

How old do they get?

Hawaiian monk seals can live for up to 30 years.

Where does it live?

Once found all over the Hawaiian Islands, the Hawaiian monk seal is now found only in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It likes to hang out in reefs, shallow lagoons, open ocean and beaches.

What do they eat?

Fish, eels and crustaceans.

monk seal and baby

Monk seal and baby

 

Do they have any special adaptations that allow them to survive in the very warm water of the Pacific Ocean?

These seals do not have special physical adaptations to deal with the warm climate in which they live. Instead, they remain inactive during the heat of the day, finding a resting spot with shade or wet sand. They are solitary animals. The Hawaiian monk seal evolved in an area without people or other land predators. Therefore, it did not learn to fear people and is easily approachable and disturbed.

How often do they reproduce?

A pregnant female gives birth to a single pup from mid-March to late May. Pups are about three feet long and weigh about 37 pounds when they are born. Pups stay with their mothers for 35 to 40 days while they nurse. During this time the mother gives the pup swimming lessons each day. While the pup is nursing, the mother fasts and may lose up to 200 pounds during this time. When the pup has been weaned, the mother returns to the sea and the pup must fend for itself.

What are the threats to the Monk Seal?

Humans; commercial hunting for skins, entanglement in fishing nets and long lines. They also die from disease.

Did you know?

A close relative of the Hawaiian Monk Seal, the Caribbean Monk seal, went extinct 10 years ago.

Most all of the information for this creature feature was taken directly from:

http://www.kidsplanet.org/factsheets/monk_seal.html

Word for word, just copied and pasted. I’d like to credit them for writing and researching it. You can find lots more information there too! Make sure you give them credit if you are using this information for reference!