Marine Mammal Care Center
Los Angeles

Science Corner - Seal Pox

If you’ve ever visited MMCC, you may have noticed animals with marble-sized bumps or lesions on their skin. The lesions are likely the result of seal pox, a DNA virus that can occur in captive, rehabilitating, and free-ranging seals and sea lions. Seal pox (genus Parapoxvirus) is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transmitted between species. Because it is zoonotic, precautions to prevent exposure should be taken by humans handling and working in close contact with infected animals.

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Science Corner - El Niño

El Niño is generating a lot of press these days. Simply put, an El Niño condition brings unusually warm temperatures to the equatorial Pacific, changing normal weather patterns. It’s opposite, La Niña, brings unusually cool temperatures to the same region.

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Science Corner - Vibrissa

Vibrissa. From the Latin "vibrio" meaning to vibrate or move. Vibrissae (plural), commonly called whiskers, are specialized hairs that are often used by mammals as tactile organs. The name whiskers comes from the term “whisking” which describes the movement some mammals employ when using their whiskers. While the whisker itself doesn’t contain any nerves, the follicle in which the whisker “sits” is filled with many sensory nerves. Some pinniped vibrissae may have up to ten times more sensory nerves than vibrissae of terrestrial mammals.

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