Image credit: http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=308
Common Name: New Zealand fur seal / kekeno
Scientific name: Arctocephalus forsteri
Conservation status: Least concern
Size and Weight: Males typically weigh between 90 and 150kg and are up to 2.5m long. Females weigh between 30 and 50kg, measuring up to 1.5m in length.
Habitat: Rocky coastlines around New Zealand and its surrounding islands, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and Macquarie Island.
Appearance: Dark, grey-brown fur on their backs, with a lighter hue on their stomachs. These seals have pointy noses and long, pale whiskers.
Lifespan: Males typically live up to 15 years and females typically live up to 12 years.
Diet: cephalopods, birds, crustaceans and fish.
Predators: Killer whales, sharks, male New Zealand sea lions and possibly leopard seals. New Zealand fur seal pups are predated upon by males of the same species.
Breeding: Females reach sexual maturity at 4-6 years and males reach sexual maturity at 8-10 years. Females typically mate once a year (in November-January). They have a 9 month gestation period but they delay implantation by 3 months, resulting in their pups being born in the following November to January. Females typically give birth to a single pup.
Threats: European settlers hunted the seals for their skin. In the modern day, a big threat to the NZ fur seal population is ending up as ‘bycatch’ in commercial fisheries.
- They have 2 layers of fur.
- Their hind flippers can rotate forwards.
- They have external ears. This feature, along with their flippers, distinguishes them from other seals.
- Mating is polygynous; i.e. one male mates with multiple females.
- In New Zealand they are protected under the 1978 Marine Mammals Protection Act which states that all wild pinnipeds cannot be touched or fed.