|Antarctic Fur Seal
Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
Antarctic Fur Seal
Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Distribution and population
The Antarctic Fur Seal (Arctocephalus gazella) is one of
eight seals in the genus Arctocephalus, and one of the nine fur
seals in the family Arctocephalinae.
As its name suggests, the Antarctic Fur Seal is distributed in
Around 95% of the world population breeds at the Island of
It is named for the German naval vessel the SMS Gazelle which
collected the first specimen from Kerguelen Island.
The species is also known as the Kerguelen Fur Seal.
This fur seal has a short and
broad snout compared with others in the family.
Adult males are dark brown in color.
Females and juveniles tend to be grey with a lighter underside.
Colour patterns are highly variable, and some scientists believe
that some hybridisation with Subantarctic Fur Seals has occurred.
Pups are dark brown, nearly black at birth.
About one in 1000 Antarctic fur seals are pale 'blonde' variants.
Males are substantially larger than females.
Antarctic fur seals grow 2 m (6.5 ft) long and weigh 91 kg (200 lb)
to 209 kg (460 lb).
Males live for about 15 years and females up to 25.
Antarctic Fur Seals appear to act alone when foraging and migrating.
Males breed polygynously - a strong male may have more than a dozen female
partners in a single season.
Territories are established on breeding grounds in October to early November,
when the musty-smelling males are extremely aggressive in defence of
Females gestate for just over a year - giving birth in November or December.
Pups are weaned at about four months old.
Juveniles may then spend several years in the water before returning to begin
their breeding cycle.
The usual food supply is krill, and each Antarctic Fur seal eats about a ton
of krill each year.
Due to the enormous and growing populations of these seals, their food is a
significant proportion of South Georgia's krill stocks.
The Antarctic Fur Seal breeds in summer on islands ranging
from South Georgia at 70° W round to about 80° E
Additionally there is a breeding ground at Macquarie Island,
165°E - south of New Zealand.
All of these islands are between 45° S and 60° S.
The animal's winter range is not known. During these long dark
months, the seal spends its time almost surely close to the
Antarctic ice - spending virtually its time at sea.
A population count is due in 2007 or 2008, and estimates can
only be very rough until this is carried out.
Best guesses suggest there may be two to four million individuals
breeding at South Georgia and 15,000 at Heard Island.
The concentrations at South Georgia are the densest aggregations
of marine mammals on earth.
Some people believe these populations have grown to such levels
because the removal of whales by the intensive whaling of the
20th century left a surplus of krill.
Other islands in Antarctic waters may have a few hundred to a
thousand such seals.
The Antarctic Fur Seal was very heavily hunted in the 18th and
19th centuries for its pelt by sealers from the United States
and the United Kingdom.
By the early twentieth century, the seal was regarded as
commercially extinct, and perhaps completely extinct.
In fact a small population continued to exist, breeding on Bird
Island in South Georgia.
This colony has expanded rapidly over the course of a century.
The current populations on the other Antarctic islands are
believed to be off-shoots of this one colony.
The species is still protected by the governments in whose waters
it resides (Australia, South Africa) and by the Convention for
the Conservation of Antarctic Seals in waters south of 60° S.
The animal is also listed in Appendix 2 of CITES.
However some governments with interests in the Antarctic, for
instance, the United Kingdom, say that some of these protections
should be lifted as the species is causing damage to vulnerable
For more information about
Antarctic_Fur_Seals see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This page was retrieved and condensed from
see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, April 2009.
All text is available under the terms of the
GNU Free Documentation License
Copyrights for details).
This information was correct in April 2009. E. & O.E.
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