Southern Fur Seals

Lucy H & Lucy D

Scientific name

The fur seals scientific name: Arctocephalus gazella

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A fur seal is the smallest seal & is a mammal, closely related to the dog and sea lion family. The fur seals coat is thick like a dogs coat & can live up to 12 to 30 years. The baby fur seals are called pups as a group of fur seals are called colonys. Fur seals grow up to 4 to 10 ft (1.2 to 3.1m). The chest and underside of the Antarctic fur seal are paler than the upper parts of the body, usually appearing cream or light grey with shades of reddish-brown. The pale colour of the underside sometimes extends to the sides and the back of the neck. The flippers are generally darker than the rest of the body, and the back of the front flippers is covered with dark, sparse, short fur in a ‘V’ pattern which does not quite reach the tip, while the palm is covered with hairless leathery skin.


Australian Fur Seals come ashore each year and form breeding colonies. The pup population suffers a high mortality rate in those first two months of life especially when the mothers are away at sea feeding. Pups are weaned at four to six months old but may still remain with the mother for a further six months or more. Females generally mate again 6 - 10 days later
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Fur seals they can weigh up to 317kg.

Adult male length: up to 2 m Adult female length: up to 1.4 m Newborn length: 63 - 67 cm Adult male weight: 110 - 230 kg Adult female weight: 22 - 51 kg Newborn weight: 6 - 7 kg


Killer whales and large sharks, like Great White Sharks and Seven-Gilled Sharks, will eat seals. These predators are only present in low numbers though and they mainly eat large fish, so not many seals actually get eaten by these predators. Usually it is the slower seals including young, old and injured seals that are eaten by large predators, but even a healthy seal can be bitten by a large predator.


Antarctic Fur Seals mainly feed on a variety of bony fish species plus squid and octopus. They usually feed at night at depths of 30 - 40 m but they have been known to dive as deep as 250 m. Australian Fur Seals feed on They are voracious and skilful hunters in the water
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Australian Fur Seals frequent coastal waters and oceans. Their preferred habitat especially for breeding is rocky islands, which include boulder or pebble beaches and gradually sloping rocky ledges.