Northern Fur Seals

Arctocephalus gazella


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Otariidae

Genus: Arctocephalus

Species: A. gazella

Endangered Status

The Northern Fur Seals are classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The fur that protects the Northern Seal from the cold has led to this species being hunted for centuries. In 1911 a treaty, the North Pacific Fur Seal Convention, was signed by the USA, Japan, Russia and the UK (acting for the Dominion of Canada), limiting hunting to immature males on land and banning all sea hunts. However, the main threats to the northern fur seal globally are now believed to be caused by entanglement in the nets of the Japanese squid fishing fleets and in the Bering Sea. Seals are also threatened by marine pollution such as plastic twine and waste packaging, as well as discarded trawl nets. The animals are very vulnerable to oil pollution and, with an increase in oil and gas exploration around several of their breeding grounds, there are fears that accidental oil spills and the inevitable industrial disturbance will affect northern fur seal populations.

Evolutionary Relationships

The Northern Fur Seal is most closely related to Antarctic and other species of eared seals.

Size and Weight

Male body length: up to 83.85 inches/6.98 feet

Female body length: up to 55.9 inches/44.66 feet

Male weight: up to 599.66 pounds

Female weight: up to 110.23 pounds


Strong front flippers give them extra mobility on land and an adult fur seal can move extremely fast across the beach if it has to. They also use their front flippers for swimming, whereas other seals use their hind flippers for swimming.

Interesting Facts

-Fur Seals have sharp eyesight and keen hearing

-Fur Seal mothers find their pups with a certain call. The pups and mothers can still respond to the same call even after up to four years of separation

-Fur Seals have very small ears

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