adaptation- a specific structure, behavior
or physiological mechanism that enhances the survival or reproduction of
an organism in a particular environment.
adaptive radiation- the evolution of
new species among related populations resulting from their ability to adapt
to a wide variety of habitats.
alien species- species introduced into
a particular environment by man; not naturally occurring.
artisanal- traditional; non-commercial.
asexual- without sex. Usually applies
to organisms that are able to reproduce without forming gametes (sex cells).
baleen- substance made of a protein
called keratin that forms "plates" in the mouths of some whales;
used to strain their food. Also known as whalebone.
baleen whales- whales belonging to the
sub-order mysticetes. These whales lack teeth which have been replaced by
a series of baleen plates that serve as strainers for collecting food.
binomial nomenclature- consisting of
two names. In taxonomy, the method of assigning each organism a genus name
and a species name.
biodiversity- the total number of genes,
species and ecosystems found on earth.
biological classification- the method
used to name and classify all living organisms based on seven levels of
increasing evolutionary relatedness: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family,
genus and species. Also known as taxonomy.
biomagnification- the increasing accumulation
of a toxin in increasing levels of a food chain.
biome- a general type of ecosystem occupying
a large geographical area. The same type of biome (example: grassland, desert)
in different parts of the world will have similar vegetation and climate.
blowhole- the nasal opening(s) of whales.
blubber- a thick layer of fat found
in marine birds and mammals that is used for insulation, an aid in buoyancy
and as an energy reserve.
bradycardia- a physiological mechanism
by which the heart rate is able to be slowed in order to use oxygen most
efficiently; used by some animals during times of oxygen depravation such
as deep water dives.
breaching- a spectacular behavior exhibited
by whales in which the animal propels itself out of the water and clears
the surface with at least two-thirds of its body.
by-catch- the total number of non-target
organisms caught incidentally in non-selective fishing gear.
CITES- The Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. An international treaty
designed to protect endangered species from the pressures of commercial
calf- a newborn whale or dolphin.
carapace- the dorsal portion of a turtle's
carnivora- an order of mammals that
is primarily terrestrial and possess large canine teeth. Includes dogs,
bears, cats, raccoons and others.
carnivore- an organism that eats meat.
A predatory organism that feeds on the bodies of other animals.
carrying capacity- the maximum number
of organisms that an ecosystem can support on a continued basis, usually
determined by the availability of space, water, food and light.
cephalopod- the class of marine invertebrates
that includes squid, octopus, cuttlefish and others.
cerebral cortex- the portion of the
vertebrate brain in which learning, reasoning, sensory perception, memory
and the coordination of most bodily activity occurs.
cetacea- the order of marine mammals
including whales, dolphins and porpoises.
ciguatera- a disease caused by the ingestion
of fish or other marine organisms that have a high concentration of a naturally
occurring toxin, ciguatoxin, stored in their tissues.
clutch- the total number of eggs laid
by a female bird or reptile in one breeding cycle.
competition- an interaction that occurs
between individuals when both attempt to use the same resource.
consumer- organisms within an ecosystem
that get their energy from feeding on other organisms or their products.
convergent evolution- the evolution
of similar structures among unrelated organisms resulting from similar pressures
from the environment.
cow- a mother whale.
critical habitat- in the Endangered
Species Act, the habitat that is determined essential for a listed species'
survival or population recovery.
decimate- to reduce to ten per cent
of the original population or total.
delphinidae- the family of cetaceans
dinoflagellates- planktonic, single-celled
marine invertebrates that move through the water by flagella (hair-like
appendages); some species responsible for producing the toxin ciguatoxin.
dorsal- pertaining to the back.
driftnet- a huge net made of nylon mesh
measuring between 1.25 and 90 miles in length and 8 and 15 feet in depth
that is left to "drift" in the ocean for periods of eight hours
ESA- the Endangered Species Act. A law
passed by the United States Congress in 1973 that is designed to protect
species endangered or threatened with extinction.
echolocation- a method of orientation
used by dolphins, whales and bats in which the size and position of objects
are determined by emitting sounds and listening for the echoes that bounce
back from them.
ecology- the scientific study of the
interactions of living organisms and their environment.
ecosystem- all living organisms of a
particular habitat together with the physical environment in which they
eco-tourism- tourist activities designed
to teach people to appreciate and care for the natural environment and wildlife.
egg-tooth- found in sea turtles, a temporary
protuberance on the beak that enables hatchlings to break through the egg
emigration- the movement of individuals
away from a population or an area.
endangered- applies to those species
in danger of extinction within all or a significant portion of their range.
endemic- unique to a particular region;
found nowhere else.
escort- an adult whale that accompanies
a cow-calf pod.
eutrophication- the process by which
a body of water becomes overloaded with nutrients (such as fertilizers),
that leads to an excessive growth of algae and a severe depletion of oxygen
fibropapilloma- a disease found in sea
turtles that causes the growth of large bulbous tumors; usually fatal.
flukes- the two horizontally broadened
fins that comprise a whale's tail.
food chain- in an ecosystem, the sequence
of prey species and the predators that consume them; a part of the food
food web- the complete set of food links
between species in an ecosystem; a diagram illustrating which species feed
gill net- relatively small nylon fish
nets that are anchored or left to drift near the coast.
head lunging- an aggressive behavior
exhibited by whales whereby one whale forcefully lunges its head at another
whale; believed to ward off competitors.
herbivore- an organism that eats plants
or their products; a primary consumer.
high seas- those regions of the ocean
that fall outside the 200 mile legal boundary of ocean that surrounds any
country or territory; often referred to as "the global commons"
IWC- the International Whaling Commission;
the international organization founded in 1946 to manage and conserve populations
of the great whales for the benefit of future generations.
immigration- movement of individuals
into a population or an area.
incidental catch- non-target species
collected as a result of using non-selective fishing gear; see by-catch.
indigenous- naturally occurring in more
than one place.
indiscriminate- non-selective; random.
Kanaloa- a Hawaiian god of the sea.
keratin- a sulfur-containing protein
that makes up hard tissues such as nails, horns and the outermost cells
krill- small planktonic marine shrimp;
a favorite food of baleen whales.
Kumulipo- the Hawaiian chant of creation.
life history strategy- the strategy
a particular species employs to be most successful in its environment; relates
to that species life cycle.
lateral bridge- in turtles, hard-shelled
plates that connect the plastron to the carapace; found on both sides.
limited resource- those resources such
as territory, food and mates that are in limited supply; competition often
occurs over limited resources.
longlines- a fishing technology whereby
long fishing lines measuring more than 1 nautical mile (1.15 miles) in length
with several branch lines with multiple baited hooks are towed behind fishing
vessels with the intent of catching large pelagic fishes such as mahi mahi,
marlin and tuna.
MMPA- the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
An Act passed by the United States Congress in 1972 that prohibits the hunting,
killing, harassing, or injuring of marine mammals by any person under U.S.
jurisdiction; limited exceptions apply.
mammals- animals belonging to the class
of vertebrates that are warm-blooded, bear live young and nurse them with
milk. Also associated with the possession of hair or fur for body covering.
Marine Mammal Commission- a scientific
advisory board comprised of experts that oversees the administration of
the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
melon- a large lens-shaped organ found
in the forehead of dolphins and toothed whales that concentrates and emits
the sounds used in echolocation.
mobbing- a behavior exhibited by Hawaiian
monk seals whereby several males violently attack juvenile female seals
and pups in an attempt to mate.
molting- the regular shedding of an
outer body covering such as fur, skin or feathers. Occurs in Hawaiian monk
moratorium- the legal banning of a particular
activity for a defined period of time.
mutualism- a type of symbiosis whereby
both participating organisms benefit from the relationship.
mysticetes- the sub-order of whales
that includes baleen whales.
natal beach- in sea turtles; the beach
where the turtle was originally hatched, or born.
native- naturally occurring in a particular
niche- the sum total of how a particular
species copes with both the living and non-living components of its environment;
The place and function of a species within its ecosystem.
non-consumptive use- the use of something
without consuming it or causing it harm; often applies to wildlife.
non-renewable resources- those natural
resources of which only a finite quantity exists; they are not able to be
renewed. Includes space and territory.
odobenidae- the family of pinnipeds
that includes the walrus.
odontocetes- the sub-order of whales
that includes toothed-whales.
order- the fourth level used in biological
PCBs- polychlorinated biphenyls. A group
of industrial chemicals (of the chlorinated hydrocarbon class) that are
commonly used and have become serious and widespread pollutants. They are
extremely resistant to breakdown and have contaminated most of the earth's
food chains, resulting in biomagnification at higher trophic levels. Known
to cause cancer.
pelage- a mammal's outer coat of fur.
phocidae- the family of pinnipeds which
includes the "true seals," or seals that lack external ears.
phocoenidae- the family of pinnipeds
that includes the eared seals and sea lions.
photosynthesis- the chemical process
carried out by plants through which energy from the sun is combined with
carbon dioxide and water to make carbohydrates; provides the basis for almost
all food chains.
phytoplankton- planktonic marine plants
and algae; the basis of the marine food chain.
pinniped- the order of marine mammals
which includes seals, sea lions and walruses.
pirate whaling- whaling that is considered
illegal following the enactment of the moratorium on commercial whaling
plastron- the ventral portion of a turtle's
poacher- a person who takes wildlife
or products derived from wildlife illegally.
pod- a social group of whales.
polygamous- applies to individuals or
species that have more than one mate at a time.
population- a group of individuals,
most often of the same species, that occupy a particular region at the same
predator- an organism that feeds upon
prey- in a feeding relationship, the
organism that is killed and eaten by another.
primary producers- those organisms that
produce the initial nutrients in a food chain; usually through photosynthesis.
purse seine- a fishing technique whereby
nylon nets measuring up to 1 mile in length and 325 feet deep are used to
encircle whole schools of fish and/or dolphins, and the bottom of the net
is pulled closed, much like a drawstring purse, to retain the catch.
renewable resource- those natural resources
that are able to be renewed such as food, water and light.
reptile- the class of vertebrates which
includes snakes, lizards and turtles. Characterized by being cold-blooded,
egg-laying and possessing skin with bony plates or scales.
rostrum- the snout or beak of a whale,
porpoise or dolphin.
salt gland- a gland found in some animals
(particularly marine) that is used to rid their bodies of excess salts.
scientific whaling- whaling for the
purpose of scientific data collection that is legally permitted under the
commercial whaling moratorium of 1986.
scutes- large horny scale-like structures
that cover the carapace of most turtles.
sexual dimorphism- the ability to distinguish
between males and females of the same species on the basis of external body
species- all the populations of organisms
that are capable of breeding under natural conditions and that are reproductively
isolated from other organisms; the basic lower unit of biological classification.
spout- the exhaled breath of a whale;
appears like a cloud of condensation above the water.
stewardship- the act of being responsible
or caring for a person, place or thing.
subsistence- pertaining to the survival
or continued existence of; means of support or livelihood.
survivorship curve- a plot where the
number of individuals in a population is graphed against their age; it usually
represents the average life expectancy of the population.
sustainable- able to be maintained over
an indefinite period of time.
symbiosis- a close association formed
between members of different species, usually over an extended period of
target species- those species which
are intended to be hunted or fished.
taxonomy- the science of biological
threatened- applies to those species
likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.
toothed whales- whales and dolphins
belonging to the sub-order odontocetes, that have teeth.
trade embargo- a prohibition of the
importation of products from one country into another.
trophic level- the position of a species
in a food chain, indicating its level of energy transfer in the ecosystem.
ventral- pertaining to the underside
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