South American fur Seal
This seal is found off the coasts of South America, preferring rocky shores and islands, particularly those with steep slopes which provide shady areas where they can escape the heat of the sun. We are home to a family of four fur seals here at Living Coasts.
Shoaling fish such as anchovies, sardines, mackerel and herring. Additionally they can feed on squid, crabs and penguins.
Fur seals are semi-aquatic mammals, well adapted to life in and out of the ocean. Hind flippers can rotate forward as well as back which allows them to be extremely agile on land as well as water. This species is extremely territorial during the breeding season. In the wild males take up territories in November, which they defend rigorously, and are joined two weeks later by females.
Breeding takes place on land, along rocky shores. Males are 2-3 times bigger than females. Males defend a territory on the beach where they have a harem of females of which he will potentially mate with. Gestation is 12 months and the females nurse their pups for 6-12 months.
This species has the longest continuous record of human exploitation of any fur seal, having long been hunted for it's fur, skin and oil. Although now a protected species some illegal hunting still occurs, as well as other threats such as pollution and lack of food due to overfishing.
Living Coasts is part of the European Stud Book programme run by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).
- Latin Name: Arctocephalus australis
- Class: Mammals
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Otariidae
- Conservation Status: Least Concern
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