PenguinSpirit

Fur Seal

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Size

Length: Males: 2 m (6.5 feet) Females: 1.4 m (4.5 feet) the average adult.

Weight: Males: 200 kg (425 lbs) Females: 40 kg (90 lbs) the average adult.

Description

  • Male: grayish brown with silvery tinge to mane. Female: much paler brown.
  • "Eared" seal, visible earflap.
  • Pointed snouts and torpedo shaped bodies for underwater travel.
  • Thick underfur that traps a layer of air for insulation. Because of this Fur Seals do not have as much blubber as the "true" seals.
  • In the water front flippers are use for propulsion while their hind flippers for steering.
  • On land the front flippers can be turned forwards to carry their weight and are used to walk making them agile on land.
  • Pup is born with a black coat.
  • Aggressive reputation.

Food

  • Feed mainly on krill, fish, squid, and sometimes, penguins.

Rookeries

  • Fur Seals colonize beaches, rocks and islets on oceanic islands south of the Convergence/Polar Front.
  • Great climbers and are often seen at the top of the highest cliffs.
  • Porpoises when in the water.

Breading

  • Adult males haul ashore and establish territories on the beach. Males become mature at approximately 4 years of age, females at 3 years.
  • Returning females or cows are herded together by the dominant males in harems of approximately 5 to 15 females.
  • The males defend their territory and harems from other immature and non-breeding males or bachelors.
  • Females produce one black furry pup in late November.
  • Pups weigh only 5 kg at birth, grow fast and double their weight in about 10 weeks on their mother's milk.
  • Females locate their pup by vocalizations then confirm the identification with scent cues. After the pup is mobile, the mother will move to a less crowded location for feeding her pup often toward the back of the beach in the tussac grass.
  • Pups are fed for approximately 4 months before being left on their own. Groups of pups form a pod.
  • Adults moult about February for 2 months before returning to the sea to migrate northwards to warmer waters during the winter months.
  • Non-breeding gathering of seals is called a herd.

Predators

  • Killer whales

Interesting Facts

  • I recently returned from circumnavigating South Georgia. It seemed to me that the expanding Fur Seal population on South Georgia is causing problems for the other wildlife and vegetation. The repeated trampling of the tussac plants and grasslands is leaving mud and bare rocks. The seals disturb burrowing petrels, and wandering albatross that must relocate their nests. Penguin's rookeries are also disturbed by the increasing expansion of the Fur Seals. With an abundance of food and no major predators the Fur Seals are changing the coastal environment of South Georgia.

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