Espolarte - Marine mammals - Juan Fernández Fur Seal

Juan Fernández Fur Seal

Arctocephalus philippii

The Juan Fernádez Fur Seal is a rare eared seal, member of the family (Otariidae).

Description

Length 2.1 m (males), 1.5 m (females). Weight 140 kg (males), 50 kg (females). Newborn calves are about 65 cm long and weigh 6 kg. Head is small, with a long, pointed snout. Males have dark brown or black fur, with silver guard hairs on their neck. Fur of females is medium brown. Young calves are black.

Natural history

Little is known about this species. Feeds on several species of cephalopods. Sharks and Killer Whales may predate upon these seals. Pups are born in November and December; females lactate their young for 7 to 10 months.

Distribution

Breeds on Juan Fernández Islands in the eastern Pacific, west of Chile. May be present on neighbouring San Félix Islands.

Status and threats

Hunting of this seal started late in 17th century and continued until 1898. In 1801, a single ship transported one million sealskins to Britain. In 1900, the species was believed to be extinct. In 1965, about 200 seals were rediscovered on Más Afuera Island. Since then, the population of Juan Fernández Fur Seals has grown steadily, and now there are about 12.000 of them. The species is still considered as vulnerable.