The Sea mink, a member of the family Mustelidae, become extinct around the 1880s. The officially recorded sighting came in 1880 in the Gulf of Maine. Not much is known about this animal as it got wiped out from its native range before scientists could analyze them.
|Scientific Name||Neovison macrodon|
Sea minks were 75 to 82 cms in length (the size of the longest specimen ever recorded was 82.6 cms in length). This species was almost fifty percent larger than its closest relatives. They were also more robust and broader in appearance. Females were shorter than males. Their body was flatter than that of the American mink. They had a long, bushy tail and the body was covered with a reddish-brown coarser coat.
Their exact distribution has always been a matter of debate. A general unanimity among researchers suggests that they inhabited Atlantic Coast of North America – from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia, and even a little population lived in Newfoundland.
Sea minks were not truly marine species – they were semi-aquatic animals that preferred to live in coastal habitats, mainly offshore islands or rocky coasts. It offered them easy access to their food sources and also provided shelter from predators.
- Before the European settlements, Sea mink was a popular food source among Native American tribes.
- There has been a great debate whether Neovison macrodon is a species of its own or a subspecies of American mink. Sea mink is often referred as Neovison vison macrodon by those who believe that Sea mink is a subspecies of American mink. However, later, a new research suggested that Neovison macrodon is a unique species,
They were territorial and solitary in nature. Males were aggressive to each other especially during mating season or if there were any territorial disputes.
Mating season was generally around April to May. Males and females led promiscuous lifestyles. Gestation period lasted around 34 days; however, it might take as long as 70 days in case of delayed implantation. Pups were looked after by their mother for 13 to 14 weeks since birth. With several external threats, a high mortality rate of pups was common.
Unregulated hunting and harvesting were the primary reasons for their extinction. Their fur had a huge demand in the European market. Fur traders used to catch them by using traps or pursuing them with dogs. Researchers also believe that high mortality rate of the pups also worked as a contributing factor in wiping them out.