We all know we’d never be where we are today without the love and support of our mothers. From the minute we’re born, they provide for us, nurture us, love us, and are our very first best friends. One incredible aspect of life on Earth is the fact that this motherly love transcends the differences between species; from humans to polar bears to manatees and more, the animal kingdom showcases some of the most applause-worthy performances of outstanding motherhood. And our ocean is home to quite a few of these marvelous mamas. Take a look at the lessons we can learn from these creatures and you may be surprised just how much we have in common with them when it comes to parenting styles!
Mothers are right by your side whenever you need them and are the first ones to carry us before we can walk (or swim) on our own.
- Consider the mother walrus. Just like human mothers carry their infants in their arms, a walrus mom will often carry her cub on her back as she swims. Similarly, sea otter mothers can be seen floating on their backs, cuddling their pups tight atop their stomach to make sure they don’t drift away. Before we grow to be able to move on our own, our mothers carried us from day one, and never left us without loving arms and helping hands along the way.
As her child,
you are your mother’s most treasured possession.
- And can you guess what a mom does with her most treasured gifts? That’s right—she protects them at all costs! Just look at the octopus mom. She will lay tens of thousands of eggs, and during their incubation period of up to 10 months, she relentlessly keeps watch over them, even refusing to eat for the sake of keeping her children safe. Just like the octopus, our mothers have an enduring drive to protect us from harm until we’re ready and prepared to defend ourselves from potential dangers.
Motherhood makes for some of the strongest women in the world.
- Take a look at the mother polar bear. After mating, the male will leave the female alone to carry her cubs to term, and she is solely responsible for raising them for up to two-and-a-half years—talk about one independent role model! At the end of the day, our mothers remain dedicated to loving and caring for us, even in the most seemingly difficult circumstances.
If she had to,
your mother would probably go to the ends of the Earth for you.
- There’s no better example of this than the Emperor penguin. Maybe you’ve heard the story of the papa penguin sheltering the egg while the mother goes out in search of food, but have you ever heard how far she could travel to find those provisions? Up to fifty miles. That’s right—instead of turning back or giving up on finding food for her baby, the mother will push herself to her limits to reach the goal of returning to her family to provide nutrition for her little one. On a similar note, elephant seals put on an insane amount of weight during their near year-long pregnancy but lose around 600 of those pounds in less than 30 days while nursing their calves. Likewise, you can bet that if it all came down to it, your mother would travel as far as she had to or even sacrifice her own wellbeing in order to make sure you were taken care of.
No matter where we go in life, we should always remember that our mothers were our very first best friends.
- Manatees showcase this perfectly with their adorable and compassionate commitment to accompanying their babies as loyal companions until they’re strong enough to go off on their own. They are vigilant guardians, swimming alongside their calves and nursing them for up to around 24 months, never rushing them to wean off milk until they’re ready. While we may all grow up and make new friends and companions in life, let’s never forget the first and most dedicated best friends we have or will ever know: our mothers.
And there you have it: five key lessons we can learn from the wonderful mothers that call our ocean and coastal ecosystems home.
But these mamas and their babies need our help. They need protection and a healthy, safe ocean to thrive in, both now and every day. Make a difference in the lives of these mothers by donating today, and you’ll play an active part in helping fund our conservation and restoration initiatives to help protect species like these. You can even make your gift in honor of your mother—now that’s what we call showing an ocean of love!