They’re Born This Way – Adaptations for an Aquatic Environment

Beluga whales often swim in shallow waters at depths that barely cover their bodies. In general they are not thought of as deep diving marine mammals, but they are capable of making deep dives and staying under water for as long as 15 minutes. Why are they able to do that?

Nahanni

Like other marine mammals, beluga whales possess a number of physiological adaptations that we humans do not have that allow them to dive to deep depths and stay under water for longer periods of time than we can.

During dives beluga whales have a slower heart rate. Also, while diving, blood is shunted away from tissues in their bodies that can tolerate low levels of oxygen towards the heart, lungs and brain where more oxygen is needed. Beluga whales possess more oxygen in their blood than most other animals. And, last, but not least, the muscle of belugas has a high content of an oxygen-binding protein called myoglobin. This protein stores oxygen and prevents muscle oxygen deficiency.

All of these adaptations enable the beluga whale to conserve oxygen while under water and do something we humans can only do through artificial means.

Are Bears Really Anti-Social?

Bears are generally thought of as strictly anti-social, solitary animals, but this is not correct. Habitat impediments, such as range size, prevent bears from interacting with each other very often in the wild. When they do meet competition for food or a mate can result in an encounter that is rather hostile. However, when competition for food or a mate is absent, bears have been known to strike up friendly relationships with each other and have even been observed playing together for long periods of time. This play typically takes the form of wrestling matches. Such play behaviour is often interpreted as aggression when it’s just two bears deciding to have some fun.

BearsWrestling

It’s true that bears do not live in herds or packs, but they can and do co-exist in close proximity to each other where food sources are plentiful and their numbers high. They will share home ranges with other bears by establishing a social hierarchy based on size, age and disposition. A bear will establish and maintain its place in the hierarchy by posturing or acting aggressively. In most cases these exhibitions of aggression do not escalate to a full-fledged altercation against another individual with the less dominant bear eventually backing down.

The stone structure located in Marineland's Bear Country is quite large and contains many caves and tunnels providing the bears with shade and protection from bad weather.

The stone structure located in Marineland’s Bear Country is quite large and contains many caves and tunnels providing the bears with shade and protection from bad weather.

To go from living solitary to living social shows the ability of the bear to adapt its behaviour based on changes to its environment.

Contrary to popular belief, the solitary bear is not SO solitary.

Check Out This Video About Marineland’s Beluga Whales!

The marine mammal caregivers at Marineland know the animals well. For example, one caregiver, Tali, has worked with a beluga whale for seven years. “To see him going from this younger animal, who was just learning to do things, to this animal who has a huge behavioral repertoire, is really fascinating” said Tali.

The video shows our caregivers and belugas during one of their husbandry training sessions. The husbandry behaviours taught to our marine mammals include presenting their fins or mouth for inspection. Learning and practising these behaviours make the animal more comfortable when it’s time for our veterinarians to examine them or carry out a necessary medical procedure.

Adorable Video of Playful Sea Lions

Sea lions love to have fun! “For sea lions, their play is based on each other,” explains Dan Macdonald, marine mammal caregiver. They are very social animals so the supervised play is perfect for them. Toys are added to these play sessions to enhance the experience for the animals.

Now, even though playtime is important, so are daily check-ups. Dan Macdonald explains that the sea lions are examined daily. Daily check ups include inspecting their bodies, mouths and teeth.

Check out the video to see the marine mammal caregivers interacting with Marineland’s sea lions:

Life of a Marine Mammal Caregiver

The most important part of a marine mammal caregiver’s job is keeping routine records of all of the animals.

“We have sheets for each of the animals. We’ll write down what they did that day, their behavior that day and how they are interacting with the other animals they are living with,” said Dan Macdonald, marine mammal caregiver.

These records are used to communicate with other caregivers and veterinary staff, so they can stay up to date with each animal.

The bond between a caregiver and marine mammal is strong. The Marineland caregivers feel connected with the animals and love getting to know the individual personalities.

Check out this video to find out what a typical day is like for a marine mammal caregiver:

 

 

Do You Know How Playful Walruses Are?

Dan Macdonald, a marine mammal caregiver at Marineland explains, “A lot of the behind the scene care for walruses is play.”

Walruses are social and love to play together. They have even more fun if toys are incorporated. Now, what toys does a walrus like? Balls, huge logs and icebergs are the current favourites!

The walruses have their own community and can be selective about whom they want to spend time with. For example, Dan Macdonald explains, “Sonja really likes to live and be with Buttercup. So, when we get a chance to, we make sure they get to spend as much time as possible with each other.”

Now isn’t that cute? Check out the video here:

Getting to Know Kiska

Kiska gets a lot of attention from her marine mammal caregiver, Tali. Kiska gets between one to four sessions per hour with Tali, or one of her other marine mammal caregivers.

Tali explains that Kiska is not very interested in high-energy behaviours, like jumps. But, she loves to be rubbed with hands or brushes!

Check out the video to see Kiska getting an enjoyable belly rub:

What’s for Breakfast?

Good morning!

We all know the importance of a well-balanced breakfast. You might have some cereal or bacon and eggs, washed down with a cup of coffee or orange juice. But, not Marineland’s animals! They also have a well-balanced breakfast, but less traditional items are on their menu.

The Marineland staff arrives bright and early to check all the animals, then, it’s time to serve breakfast! The staff takes out 2,000 pounds of fish to thaw. That’s a lot of fish! You can pick your jaw up off the floor, though! This isn’t all eaten at breakfast. The staff thaws the fish to feed to the marine mammals throughout the day.

We like to keep our animals healthy! Which is why we give them vitamins. And how do you get the animals to take their vitamins? Simple, you put the vitamins into the fish and then feed the fish to the marine mammals!

You might be wondering what the land animals at Marineland are fed for breakfast.
Each day, about 110 bales of hay and 454 kg (1,000 lbs) of grain such as corn, barley and oats, along with a vitamin supplement, are given to the deer, elk and bison.

Now, when you make your way around the park you will know what happens before the park opens! There is a lot of morning preparation at Marineland to keep our animals happy and healthy.

fish

Marineland’s water system provides suitable environment for all marine mammals


Marineland ensures that its marine mammals are well taken care of and healthy. Over many years, we have made significant financial investments to develop and maintain a sufficient water management system to provide an appropriate environment for all marine mammals under our care.

A water treatment analysis report conducted by Stantec, an independent company, was released in 2013. It reveals that Marineland maintains best practices and conducts on-going research for development. Based on the assessment, it was found that the systems are suitable for maintaining water quality parameters for the species and number of marine mammals under human care. This assessment coupled with further research of relevant literature shows that Marineland’s systems meet modern standards of performance requirements.

If you wish to read the entire report conducted by Stantec, please visit: https://www.marineland.ca/admin/data//file/StantecReport.pdf

Marineland is the most thoroughly inspected facility of its kind in the world


Over the last two years, Marineland has been the most thoroughly inspected facility of its kind in the world. The conclusion of all of these inspections – all of them – is that the marine mammals at Marineland are well taken care of and healthy, the facilities are excellent and there is no evidence of animal abuse.

These inspections included a complete independent review by two expert veterinarians on behalf of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) and multiple unannounced and scheduled inspections by the OSPCA Zoo Inspection team.

The care and treatment of marine mammals is a topic which attracts emotional responses – which Marineland understands. However, often times these emotional responses are not based on factual evidence. Marineland’s care and treatment of marine mammals is based on factual evidence and advice of scientific experts and veterinarians.

We are guided by these experts regarding the health and psychological well-being of our marine mammals. With confidence, we know that Marineland’s marine mammals are healthy and well treated.

Beluga touching moment McDonald