Kekeno Animal Profile

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Common Name: New Zealand fur seal / kekeno

Scientific nameArctocephalus forsteri

Conservation status: Least concern

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

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.

Interesting Facts:

  1. They have 2 layers of fur.
  2. Their hind flippers can rotate forwards.
  3.  They have external ears. This feature, along with their flippers, distinguishes them from other seals.
  4. Mating is polygynous; i.e. one male mates with multiple females.
  5. In New Zealand they are protected under the 1978 Marine Mammals Protection Act which states that all wild pinnipeds cannot be touched or fed.




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