Let's celebrate these 7 marine moms

  • Thursday, 11 May 2017
  • linda

There's nothing quite like a mother's love, and marine moms are no exception. These seven devoted mothers will go all out for their kids, from putting "dinner" on the table every night to even sacrificing themselves. These offspring really need to make sure they mail their Mother's Day cards in time this year!

md octopus eggs


A female octopus has one, and only one, goal: to become a mum as least once in a lifetime. She will lay about 200 000 eggs in her lair and will defend them with her life. Sometimes, literally. For almost a month while guarding her offspring, she will almost starve to death and may even ingest one of her own arms rather than leave the eggs to look for food. Once the eggs hatch the babies float around in the plankton blooms, while mum will only then make her appearance. Too weak to defend herself the predator herself might becomes the prey.

md emperor pneguin

Emperor Penguin

Successfully raising a chick is a truly remarkable accomplishment for this mum and dad. Hot dating starts in March when temperatures in Antarctica reach a freezing -40°C. These guys are serial monogamists and will wait for their previous year’s mate before breeding again. After laying just one egg, the mother emperor penguin leaves it with dad who protects the fragile hard shell from the elements. She then travels up to 120km to reach the ocean and the fish she needs for feeding. When she returns, the family of three have to move house. It now becomes dads turn to make the long journey to get food for his family. She will regurgitate the fish to feed her newly hatched chick. Using the warmth of her own brood pouch, the mother keeps the chick warm and safe.

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Despite their fierce name, killer whales are really mama’s boys. For good reason: A study of almost 600 orcas, also known as killer whales, shows that having mum nearby significantly increases a son’s chances for survival. For the killer whale mums, this is more than just motherly love is at work; this way she will ensure she has as many teenage boys as possible to compel her to look after these descendants.Whether these budding bachelors recognise their mothers as wise sages is unclear, but each young male will stay by his mother’s side as long as she lives. 

Having her offspring sticking around may help explain why female killer whales, like humans and pilot whale females, live decades past their reproductive prime.  Orca mums act in the same manner as menopausal women in hunter-gatherers in sharing food and guiding her brood.

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Humpback Whales

It’s not easy being a baby Humpback Whale. Being born during a water birth the calf is pushed to the surface for its first breath of air by a doting mum and from then on he must start swimming. Humpback babies will hide from predators by swimming above the head of their mums. This protects the babies from predators attacks from below. A humpback mum has a long pregnancy and has to wait for her baby calf for nearly a year but then they become inseparable for around for another year. During this time, she won't let the little one out of her sight. She'll nurse her rapidly growing bundle of joy each day. A calf will go through an amazing growth spurt during his first six months of life, gaining nearly 100 pounds per day and consuming up to 200+ litres of milk each day. During feeding baby humpback will usually surface 4-6 times while mum is down below holding her breath.  Some proud mums appear to enjoy showing off their calf to the boat and will seemingly lift her calf out of the water on her head and back right in front of a boat.

md seals


This is one lady who is large and in charge, even if it has nothing to do with her size! Elephant seals generally weigh in at up to 1,700 pounds! However, that's nothing compared to her male suitor, who is usually four times her size. Once pregnant, this moms-to-be immediately start to bulk up, even more, putting on additional weight during every day of the 11-month pregnancy. However, after giving birth, while nursing her babies she'll drop about 600 pounds in less than a month — sort of like all those Hollywood celebrity mums who get their shape back in a ridiculously short period of time (and seal mum does not even have a personal trainer to help ).What a mum will sacrifice for her kids!

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Polar bears

Male polar bears are the kings of one-night stands. These Casanovas give females the cold shoulder after mating, leaving the moms-to-be to put on around 400 pounds during their pregnancy! That's a lot of "baby weight," but in this case, late-night cravings are encouraged — in fact, if the female doesn't find enough food to double her weight, her body will actually reabsorb the fetus. Sound like something from a science fiction movie? It's all too true. After she packs on the pounds, the polar bear has one of the easiest labours on record. She digs a maternity den (usually in a snowdrift), where she goes into a hibernation-like state, doesn't eat for two months and also sleeps through the baby's birth. Newborns are blind and toothless, but super cute, generally staying in the safety of the den while nursing on the fasting mother’s milk. At the end of this period, the whole bear family emerge from the den and eventually make their way to the moving sea ice, where mum can catch some seals to eat once again. At this point, the devoted mother has been fasting for up to eight months while raising hungry cubs.

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Talk of role reversal. The tedious parenting functions normally handled by females are performed by dads in the seahorse partnership. The emancipated lady will deposit thousands of eggs inside the male’s brood pouch whereupon he will release a mist of sperm to fertilise his offspring. The eggs become enveloped in tissue and will receive everything they need from dad, including a typical female hormone. Mum is relatively absent during this time but checks up on dad once a day to keep the relationship going.



Sources: Various online

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