Espolarte - Marine mammals - Guadalupe Fur Seal

Guadalupe Fur Seal

Arctocephalus townsendi


Photo: NOAA. Public domain

The Guadalupe Fur Seal is a less-known member of the eared seal family (Otariidae).

Description

Length 1.9 m (males), 1.3 m (females). Males weigh about 100 kg, females weigh much less. Males have a large head, with a long, pointed snout. Females are very similar to female California Sea Lions. Both males and females have thick, dark brown of black fur. Males have a mane, with light guard hairs. Young calves are black.

Natural history

Feeds on fish and squid. Lives in large rookeries. Males are territorial during breeding season. Females give birth in June and breed again 7 to 10 days after giving birth. Pups are lactated for almost a year.

Distribution

Breeds only on Guadalupe Island, about 200 km from the Pacific coasts of Mexico. Some animals were sighted on Channel Islands, California.

Status and threats

Guadalupe Fur Seals were remorselessly hunted during the 19th century. In 1897, scientists believed that the species was extinct. In 1926, fishermen found a group of Guadalupe Fur Seals and killed them. In 1949, 14 survivors were found. Their population has grown quickly since then, and now numbers about 10.000, but the species is still considered as vulnerable.