Antarctic fur seal

The Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazelle) is one in all 9 species of fur seals that, in conjunction with six living species of ocean lions, conjure the "eared seals" or otariids. Their tiny outer ear flaps distinguish them from the earless "true seals." The Antarctic fur seal is that the solely seal that unremarkably lives in Antarctic waters. they're seen ofttimes on TravelWild Antarctic continent cruises—particularly at sub-Antarctic South Georgia.
Distribution and Migration of Antarctic Fur Seals

Researchers estimate that four million Antarctic fur seals live within the Antarctic Convergence—the nutrient-rich transition zone between cold Antarctic water within the south and therefore the additional temperate waters to the north. Antarctic fur seals square measure found on many sub-Antarctic islands, with ninety five p.c of the world’s population breeding at South Georgia. The South Georgia population is taken into account the densest concentration of marine mammals on earth! alternative islands with Antarctic fur seal populations embrace the South Shetlands, South Orkneys and South Sandwiches, and detected Island. they're additionally often seen on the Palmer Peninsula and on alternative tiny islands. They disperse wide once puzzled.

Antarctic fur seals were afraid to close extinction by yank and British sealers within the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for his or her luxurious pelts. within the early decade solely alittle population still survived and bred on Bird Island at South Georgia. All Antarctic fur seals these days square measure believed to be descendants of this one small colony—which some scientists worry compromises the genetic diversity of the species. Ironically, it had been Associate in Nursing imbalance of the organic phenomenon that expedited the outstanding recovery of the Antarctic fur seal. within the decade, Antarctic whaling removed the most important malacostracan crustacean-eating animals—the whalebone whales—which caused a sudden  over-abundance of krill, a significant a part of the diet of Antarctic fur seals.
Identifying Antarctic Fur Seals—Physical Characteristics

The Antarctic fur seals square measure known by their visible flap, dark coarse fur, and their ability to rearrange themselves into a standing position by turning their rear flippers underneath their body and supporting most of their weight on their exceptionally sturdy fore flippers. This adaptation permits them to run and run on "all fours" onto land. The Antarctic fur seal additionally uses its front flippers for swimming.

Adult males live 4–6 feet (1.6–2m) long and weigh 200–460 pounds (90–210kg), with a mean size of 415 pounds (188kg). Adult females square measure smaller at four feet (1.3 meters) long and weigh 55–120 pounds (25–55kg), with a mean size of eighty one pounds (37kg). Males square measure usually four or 5 times larger than females, a characteristic of the species’ pronounced sexual dimorphism.
"Blonde" Antarctic fur seal pup
"Blonde" Antarctic fur seal pup

Another variation between the sexes is fur color. Adult males square measure dark brown in color, whereas females and juveniles tend to be grey with a lighter undersurface. Pups square measure black at birth and molt to a silver-gray coat at a pair of to three months more matured. Associate in Nursing uncommon blonde-fur variant happens in concerning one in one thousand births within the population.
Antarctic Fur Seal surroundings

When not breeding onto land, the Antarctic fur seal leads a for the most part water (oceangoing) existence, following its prey where it's superabundant. whereas fur seals square measure capable of traveling on and shipping out onto ice, it's uncommon to ascertain them there. throughout the breeding season they primarily reside on protected  rocky, sandy and gravelly beaches on sub-Antarctic islands with lush tuft grass clumps. With on the market food, some adult males and juveniles could lollygag around the breeding islands year-round .
Antarctic Fur Seal Breeding and pairing

The breeding season for the Antarctic fur seal happens from Gregorian calendar month to Gregorian calendar month, throughout the Antarctic summer, with males incoming onto land early to contend for breeding territory. The males square measure ferociously territorial, exploitation physical threat displays, vocalizations and their formidable canine teeth to sharply defend their access to heat females.

Males quick throughout the breeding season, unwilling to go away their females or territories, losing up to 3½ pounds every day. A male Antarctic fur seal quarters contains, on average, 10 females, though some prime dominant "beach master" bulls are renowned to possess over a hundred females.

Gestation is twelve months. Females offer birth throughout November–December, concerning 2 days when incoming onshore. The pups weigh 6–15 pounds at birth. The mother mates one week when birthing so leaves to feed puzzled, typically for 3–5 days, before returning to shore to nurse her pup for 1–2 days. This cycle of feeding and nursing lasts concerning four months.

Antarctic fur seals with king penguins photograph © Kay Gordon
Antarctic fur seals with king penguins

Juveniles could pay many years puzzled before returning to land to start their breeding cycle. Leopard seals and orcas square measure renowned to eat Antarctic fur seal pups close to the breeding beaches.
Antarctic Fur Seal Diet

Fur seals go after moderately-sized fish, birds (including penguins), squid and malacostracan crustacean—with krill creating up the bulk of the diet. In one year a personal fur seal can eat the maximum amount in concert ton of malacostracan crustacean.
Antarctic Fur Seal Behavior

While Antarctic fur seals will dive for up to ten minutes and as deep as 800 feet (approx. 250 meters), dives typically average 3–4 minutes at a hundred feet (approx. 30 meters).

The Antarctic fur seal leads a solitary life apart from breeding and moult. Females live up to twenty three years. Males live up to fifteen years (due to the strain of the breeding season). Adult fur seals square measure preyed upon by sharks, orcas and sometimes by larger ocean lions.

When onto land the beach master bulls square measure terribly aggressive, particularly throughout the breeding season, and may be a biting hazard to unguarded or bold tourists United Nations agency don't treat them with caution and find too shut.

Antarctic fur seals square measure vulnerable by oil spills, overfishing and trap in fishing nets.

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