All About the Fur Seals: The Sea Bear


Photo: GrantAmer via Getty Images

Fur seals are marine mammals belonging to the family of pinnipeds, including sea lions, walruses, and elephant seals.

There are eight species of fur seals found on the coasts of the Southern Hemisphere.

The most common fur seal is the Antarctic Fur Seal, which is found on the coasts of Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands.

Another type of fur seal is the Australian Fur Seal, which is found on the coasts of Australia and New Zealand.

Fur seals get their name from their thick fur coats, which keep them warm in the cold waters they inhabit.

Description and Appearance

Photo: ozflash via Getty Images

The alluring beauty of the Fur seals has enchanted humans for centuries. These creatures are a type of eared seal, and they are related to sea lions.

There are eight different types of Fur seals, and they can be found on the coasts of New Zealand, Australia, South America, and South Africa.

Fur seals grow to be about 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) long and weigh 400 to 800 pounds (180 to 360 kilograms).

Males are about twice the size of females and can weigh up to 1,400 pounds (635 kg). Females are much smaller, only reaching lengths of 1.5 meters and weights of 130 kg. Pups weigh about 15 to 20 pounds (6.8 to 9 kg) and measure approximately 2.5 feet (0.8 m) long.

Although they have a thick coat of fur, Fur seals are excellent swimmers and can dive to over 600 meters in search of food.

Fur seals are easily recognized by their thick fur coats. The coat consists of an outer layer of long guard hairs and a dense undercoat of short, soft hair.

This fur is waterproof and keeps the seal insulated in cold water. Male seals have much thicker fur than females, and their coats can range in color from light blond to dark brown. Females usually have lighter-colored fur.

Male Fur seals have a thick mane of long hair around their necks that can be up to 30 cm long.

Females do not have a mane, but they have longer hair around their faces than males.

Both males and females have long, sharp claws on their front flippers, which they use to catch prey.

If you need one in your home, you can get this Gage Beasley's Fur Seal Soft Stuffed Plush Toy and have a cute little marine mammal to watch over you.

 

Diet

Fur seals primarily eat fish, but they will also eat squid, octopus, and crustaceans.

They have sharp teeth to tear their prey into pieces before swallowing it whole.

They are skilled hunters and can dive to over 600 meters, searching for food.

Fur seals may dive down to 1,000 feet (305 meters) or more to catch their food. They can stay underwater for up to 20 minutes at a time!

Fur seals will often work together to herd schools of fish into shallow water where they can more easily catch them.

Fur seals typically eat 2 to 4 percent of their body weight each day.

Reproduction

Fur seals reach sexual maturity at around 4 to 7 years old.

The mating season occurs from November to January, and females give birth to a single pup between December and February.

Pups are born on land, but they quickly make their way into the water, learning to swim.

They are weaned at around 3 to 4 months old but will remain with their mothers for up to 2 years.

Fur seals have a long lifespan and can live for up to 30 years in the wild.

Distribution & Habitat

Fur seals are found on the coasts of New Zealand, Australia, South America, and South Africa.

They haul out on rocky shores, sandy beaches, and reefs.

Some fur seals migrate long distances, while others remain in the same area year-round.

Males and females live together during the breeding season, but they live apart the rest of the year.

Males travel to different areas to molt, while females and their pups remain in the same place.

Fur seals are social animals and often haul out on beaches or rocks in large groups.

They are known to quarrel, but they will work together to herd prey into shallow water.

Conservation

Photo: BenLevyPhotography via Getty Images

Fur seals are not currently endangered, but some species are classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The biggest threat to fur seals is humans.

They have been hunted for their fur and oil for centuries, and this hunting continues today in some parts of the world.

Fur seals are also killed as “bycatch” in fisheries. This means they are accidentally caught in fishing nets and other fishing gear meant for other animals.

To help protect fur seals, many countries have laws that prohibit hunting them.

In addition, international agreements have been put in place to reduce the number of fur seals killed as bycatch.

You can help protect fur seals by supporting these conservation efforts and not buying products made from seal fur.

Other Interesting Facts

Here are some more facts about fur seals that you might find interesting:

  1. Fur seals are excellent swimmers and can reach up to 25 mph (40 km/h).
  2. Their front flippers are used for swimming, while their hind flippers are used for walking on land.
  3. On land, fur seals often lie on their sides or backs with their flippers outstretched.
  4. Fur seals have a thick layer of fat that helps to keep them warm in cold water.
  5. Fur seals are vocal animals and use a variety of vocalizations to communicate with each other.
  6. Some vocalizations are used to establish dominance, while others are used to attract mates.
  7. Fur seals are also known to “bark” like a dog.
  8. Some fur seal species are called “sea lions,” but there are some essential differences between these two animals. For example, sea lions have external ear flaps, while fur seals do not.
  9. The giant fur seal is the southern elephant seal, which can weigh up to 10,000 lbs. (4,500 kg) and grow to 18 ft (5.5 m).
  10. The smallest fur seal is the Guadalupe fur seal, which weighs around 110 lbs. (50 kg) and grows to a length of 5 ft (1.5 m).

Final Thoughts

Fur seals are exciting animals that play an essential role in the marine ecosystem.

They are social creatures that live in large groups and often work together to herd prey into shallow water.

However, fur seals are also hunted by humans for their fur and oil, and they are sometimes killed as bycatch in fisheries.

To help protect these animals, many countries have laws that prohibit hunting them, and international agreements have been put in place to reduce the number of fur seals killed as bycatch.

You can support these conservation efforts by not buying products made from seal fur.

Other ways to help protect fur seals include supporting research and education programs about these animals.

By learning more about fur seals, we can help ensure their future in the wild.

Cheers!

~GB


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