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Our planet is home to the most magnificent and unusual creatures. If you're lucky, you may witness spectacular behavioral displays, from breaching humpback whales to spinning dolphins and graceful sea turtles.
All species but the flatback is listed as either endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Nesting females provide general population estimates. The total number of nesting females for the leatherback is less than 35,000 ; the green turtle is 88,520; the loggerhead is 44,560; the hawksbill is 22,900; the Kemp's ridley is less than 2,500; the olive ridley is 800,000; and the flatback is 20,285.
Sea turtles are circumglobal species occurring throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. The green, hawksbill, and loggerhead sea turtles occur around the Hawaiian islands and western U.S. coast.
Read more about sea turtles
Hawaiian Monk Seal
Adults are generally light gray while pups are often black or dark gray. At maturity, this species reaches from 6 feet 11 inches to 7 feet 10 inches and weighs from 510 to 600 pounds.
Monk seals mainly occupy the uninhabited atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; however, some have been spotted around the Main Hawaiian Islands. The monk seal depends largely on the coral reefs for feeding. Their diet consists of fish, eels, octopuses, and crustaceans. Monk seals are very fast and efficient swimmers; they can travel long distances and dive over 800 feet.
Read more about Hawaiian monk seals.
Global warming is the most serious threat to polar bears. Rising arctic temperatures are reducing both the extent and duration of the sea ice polar bears depend on for hunting, forcing them to spend more time on land away from vital food supplies.
The disappearing ice is particularly hard on breeding females, who must feed both themselves and their cubs. In some areas, polar bear birth rates have dropped by up to 15% in the last decade, and the bears show increasing signs of undernourishment.
Polar bears are also threatened by toxic pollutants, oil and gas development, illegal poaching and overhunting.
Read more about polar bears.
Steller Sea Lion
Steller sea lions are distributed across the North Pacific Ocean rim from Northern Japan and Russia, the Aleutian Islands, central Bering Sea, southern coast of Alaska, and south to the Channel Islands of California.
Steller sea lions were the most abundant marine mammal until their precipitous decline in the early 1980's. The reasons for the decline are not known, but may be related to the depletion of pollock and other fish from critical habitat areas by bottom trawler fishing.
Read more about Steller sea lions.