The Australian fur seal is the world’s fourth- rarest seal species. Hunted to the brink of extinction last century, population recovery has been slow, and seals are now wholly protected.
The largest of the fur seals is the impressive Australian Fur Seal that resides between Victoria and Tasmania in Bass Strait. Even though its status is secure it is still the fourth rarest seal in the world. The male fur seal is a 2 meter, (6.5 foot), long animal that can weigh up to 360 kilograms, (794 pounds). It has a massive neck and shoulders covered in a dark mane of thick fur and the rest of his body varies between a dark gray and brown with a lighter colored front. The female, though smaller, is still a huge animal. She can measure up to 1.7 meters, (5.6 feet), and weigh about 100 kilograms, (220 pounds). Females come in many different colors from a soft tan to brown to gray. Underneath her neck you can see a pale almost yellowish color and her front is normally brown. The fur seal also has carnivorous teeth and long whiskers that it uses to find its food.
The Australian fur seal’s diet consists of squids, (its favorite), octopus, crustaceans, rock lobsters and small fish. It usually hunts schools of fish made up of Pilchards or Mackerel. This seal is also very talented at getting fish off of a fishing line to the surprise of the fisherman.
Australian fur seals come to rocky shores to mate and give birth at one of nine sites in the Bass Strait. The males arrive first in early spring, around October, and after fighting with other males they stake out a territory. The females arrive a few weeks later to give birth after a gestation period of practically a year. After the birth of their only baby, they will often leave it on the shore for two to three days at a time to go feed in the ocean. They come back ever so often to feed their baby and will continue to nurse it for the next 4 to 5 months. Only 6 to 10 days after giving birth they will mate again and have another baby a year later. The female seals are pretty much in a constant state of pregnancy all their lives until the die around the age of 21. The males can mate with up to 50 female seals a year until they die at around the age of 19.
Kayak to the seal colony!
Grzimek, Bernhard. Four-Legged Australians. London: Collins, 1967. p.35