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Juan Fernandez Fur Seal


Scientific Name:
Arctocephalus philippii
Length:
1.4 - 2.1 m (4.6 - 6.9 ft)
Weight:
male: 140 – 159 kg (309 - 350 lbs); female: 50 kg (110 lbs)
Status:
rare
Prey:
Myctophid, squid, fish, octopus

Physical characteristics

The Juan Fernandez fur seal has a relatively robust body and a long, slender and pointed snout. It has stubby foreflippers and hindflippers and a mane of long, coarse guard hairs from the top of the heas to the shoulders. Adult males are dark brown to black, but the guard hairs can have yellow or tan tips. The males also have a more bulbous nose than the females and juveniles, as well as being longer than the adult females. The adult females have an overall brown colour, but the tips of the guard hairs may fade to yellow or tan. The females are less robust at the chest, neck and shoulders than the adult males. Pups are born black, but become lighter during the first few years.

Behavioral characterization

Fiendly, mid-deep water diver. Little is known about this fur seal.

Distribution

The Juan Fernandez Archipelage, islands of San Felix and San Ambrosio off the coast of Chile

Population size

estimated 12,000

Predators

Sharks and killer whales.

Migration/Dispersal patterns

Some males migrate to the Chilean mainland during autumn and winter and individuals occasionally wander north to the Peruvian coast.

Social system/Group size

N/A

Major threats

Despite being protected by the Chilean government, the Juan Fernandez fur seal is sometimes poached illegally for lobster bait, fur and meat. Occasional reports also exist of the seal becoming entangled in fishing nets and plastic waste. There is an additional concern that the seal may have to compete with fisheries for its food, and due to its limited size, the population is vulnerable and may suffer from a lack of genetic diversity.

Research efforts

They are monitored by the Chilean government.

Fun fact

The mother leaves her pup in order to feed at sea about 11 days after giving birth, longer than for other fur seal species, and for the next 7 - 10 months she alternates periods of an average of 5 days nursing her pup on land with feeding trips lasting an average of 12 days. The lengths of these feeding trips are exceptionally long for a fur seal.