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Marine mammals

of South Carolina

Atlantic bottlenose dolphin

Scientific Name: Tursiops truncatus

Habitat Distribution: New England/Mid-Atlantic

Lifespan: ~40 years


Size: (mass) 330 – 1,400 lbs; (length) 6.6 – 13 ft.

Diet: fish, squid, crustaceans

Predators: sharks; humans

Threats: entanglement/bycatch, human interaction, habitat degradation, noise, chemical contaminants, disease, biotoxins, vessel collisions

Photo Credit: Lauren Rust

Pygmy Sperm Whale

Scientific Name: Kogia breviceps

Habitat Distribution: New England/Mid-Atlantic, Pacific Islands, Southeast, West Coast

Lifespan: ~23 years


Size: (mass) 700 to 1,000 lbs (length) Up to 11.5 ft.

Diet: cephalopods, crustaceans, and fish

Predators: humans; orcas

Threats: Entanglement, Hunting (Indonesia, Japan, and Lesser Antilles), Vessel strikes, Marine debris, Ocean noise

Photo Credit: LITCAF

Humpback whale

Photo Credit: NOAA

Scientific Name: Megaptera novaeangliae

Habitat Distribution: Alaska, New England/Mid-Atlantic, Pacific Islands, Southeast, West Coast, Foreign

Lifespan: 80 to 90 years


Size: (mass) Up to 40 tons (length) Up to 60 ft.

Diet: filter-feed on small crustaceans (mostly krill) and small fish

Predators: humans; orcas; aggressive sharks

Threats: Entanglement in fishing gear, Vessel strikes, Vessel-based harassment

North-Atlantic Right Whale

Photo Credit: Center for Biological Diversity

Scientific Name: Eubalaena glacialis

Habitat Distribution: New England/Mid-Atlantic, Southeast


Lifespan: ~70 years


Size: (mass) 70 tons; (length) 45-52 ft.

Diet: zooplankton

Predators: orcas; humans

Threats: entanglement, noise, vessel strikes

Long-finned Pilot whale

Scientific Name: Globicephala melas

Habitat Distribution: New England/Mid-Atlantic, Southeast


Lifespan: (males) 35-45 years; (females) ~60 years


Size: (mass) 2,900 - 5,000 lbs; (length) 19-25 ft.

Diet: fish, cephalopods, crustaceans

Predators: Humans

Threats: Entanglement, Disease, Chemical contaminants, Ocean noise

Photo Credit: NOAA

Florida Manatee

Photo Credit: Marine Mammal Commission

Scientific Name: Trichechus manatus latirostris

Habitat Distribution: primarily Flordia; seen RI to TX

Lifespan: 50-60 years


Size: (mass) ~990 lbs; (length) ~11ft.

Diet: marine vegetation (plants)

Predators: Humans

Threats: boat strikes, entrapment, entanglement, loss of warm-water habitat, toxins, cold stress, human disturbance

North American River otter

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Scientific Name: Lontra canadensis

Habitat Distribution: land/rivers in North America


Lifespan: ~12 years


Size: (mass) 10 to 33 pounds; (length) 2.5 - 5 ft.

Diet: fish, frogs, crayfish, turtles, insects and some small mammals

Predators: bobcats, coyotes, mountain lions, wolves, black bears, and foxes

Threats: water pollution, habitat destruction

American Mink

Scientific Name: Neovison vison

Habitat Distribution: freshwater systems in North America


Lifespan: 10-12 years


Size: (mass) 0.88-3.5 lbs; (length) 12 – 18 in.

Diet: muskrats, rabbits, mice, chipmunks, fish, snakes, frogs and birds

Predators: coyotes, bobcats, and birds of prey

Threats: habitat loss, water pollution

Photo Credit: Chuck Homler

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