The Guadalupe fur seal is a species of seal that is endemic to the Guadalupe Island in Mexico. Once thought to be extinct due to excessive hunting in the 1800s, there are now estimated to be around 10,000 adults of this marine mammal species in their native Guadalupe Island habitat. The California Channel Islands and Baja California's Cedros Islands form the north and south boundaries of the geographic habitat range. The Guadalupe fur seal is mostly a solitary marine mammal, but males maintain a territory with 4-12 females during the breeding months. Usually, one pup is born after a gestation period of 12 months and about 10 days later, these marine mammals mate again. Adult male seals are noticeably bigger than adult female seals. Guadalupe fur seals voraciously feed on lanternfish, squid, and mackerel and get fed on by killer whales, great white sharks, and other sharks. As stated by the IUCN, the Guadalupe fur seal is currently a species of Least Concern.
The Guadalupe fur seal (Arctocephalus townsendi or Arctophoca townsendi) is a fur seal.
The Guadalupe fur seal belongs to the Mammalia class of animals.
There are about 10,000 adult individuals of the Guadalupe fur seal species left in the world.
Guadalupe fur seals are endemic to Guadalupe Island, specifically the east coast. On the north, their range extends to the Channel Islands in the southern California region. Their southern range extends to the Cedros Island is Mexico's Baja California. The breeding area of the Guadalupe fur seals is 180 mi (290 km) to the west of Baja California. Guadalupe fur seals are among the rarest of fur seals and the only ones in the Northern Hemisphere. These marine mammals have been seen near Puerto Gurrero, close to the border between Guatemala and Mexico. California's Point Reyes National Seashore, Oregon, San Nicolas Island, San Miguel Island, and the Gulf of California have also seen some of these marine mammals. The true range of Guadalupe fur seals is hard to estimate because they are very rarely sighted.
The Guadalupe fur seal habitat is mostly on rocky coasts and in caves near the shores of their range.
The male Guadalupe fur seals are known to be territorial in the breeding season and they defend harems with about six adult females, with whom they breed. Males and females are often seen with their pups. Apart from the breeding season when males live with females and pups, they are non-social and solitary.
Males of the Guadalupe fur seal species live for 13 years on average and females live longer, close to 23 years.
Guadalupe fur seals have a breeding system that is polygynous. The male bull has a 'harem' territory with four to twelve female cows which it defends for 35-112 days of the breeding season. Each female has one pup which it nurses. Only seven to ten days after females give birth, adult males mate with them again. The gestation by females lasts for about 12 months. Pups are born in the months of June and July, mostly mid-June. The lactation period lasts for about 9-11 months.
The conservation status of the Guadalupe fur seal species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature is Least Concern.
Male Guadalupe fur seals are bigger than females, with adult males weighing 273.4-352.7 lb (124-160 kg) and females weighing only about 110.2-121.3 lb (50-55 kg). Males also grow to be around 74.8 in (1.9 m) long and females grow to be around 55.1 in (1.4 m) long. Hence, sexual dimorphism is very apparent. The fur is brownish-gray on the dorsal side and dusky black or dark brown overall. There is a yellowish-gray and silvery mane present on the neck's nape. The snouts of these seals are pointed and are colored on the sides with rusty orange. The pups also have a black coat much like the adults. Guadalupe fur seals have visible ear flaps which are evidence that they are not true seals.
Like all seals, Guadalupe fur seals are very cute-looking animals. These marine mammals have very emotive faces and loud calls that make them seem human-like. They look adorable when they move around on their bellies. They are often thought of as dogs of the seas, but it shouldn't be forgotten that they are top, wild predators in their ecosystems and they are territorial and aggressive.
Like other species of seals, Guadalupe fur seals communicate via calls. These calls are different in pitch and range. They can also make and amplify their calls under the water. Males are vocal during the territorial defense. These seals and their pups use snorts, growls, and whistles in response to threats from others of their kind. A female may use smells to locate her pup post foraging. Guadalupe fur seals may also use movement clues to communicate.
Being fur seals, they may move at speeds close to 15 mph (24 kph) while swimming. They can dive for 2.5 minutes and up to depths of 56 ft (17 m). On land, Guadalupe fur seals move at speeds up to 12.5 mph (20 kph).
Guadalupe fur seals weigh 110.2-352.7 lb (50-160 kg).
Like other mammals, males and females of the Guadalupe fur seal species are called bulls and cows respectively.
A baby Guadalupe fur seal is called a pup.
The Guadalupe fur seal diet consists mainly of lanternfish, squid, and mackerels.
These marine mammals themselves get preyed upon by killer whales, great white sharks, and other sharks.
Guadalupe fur seals aren't particularly venomous, but they are marine mammals who carry bacteria and viruses which they may transfer onto you if you come in contact with them causing infections. And they are wild animals, so they are likely to bite as well. It may cause 'seal finger' which is accompanied by bone marrow swelling, joint inflammation, and cellulitis.
No, these wild animals would definitely not make good pets. Also, Guadalupe fur seals are protected according to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which states that it is not legal to feed or touch any seals. One must always keep a distance of at least 50 yards (46 m) from these seals.
Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.
Fur seals live for 13-27 years.
Guadalupe fur seals may eat 4-8% of their body weight every day. They would have to feed as often as they could to consume this amount because of their heavy bodies.
Guadalupe fur seals have two dense coats of fur. The underfur is wool-like and the outer hairs are long and coarse. The double layer of fur comes in handy for trapping air which insulates and waterproofs the body.
Guadalupe fur seals aren't currently endangered, they are a Least Concern species as per the IUCN.
During the 1800s, these seals were hunted quite extensively and were thought to have gone extinct until 1954, when 14 individuals were discovered in Mexico. They are presently protected in Mexico and the USA. There are an estimated 10,000 mature individuals of this protected marine mammal species alive and this relatively low number is only increasing.
However, they still face some risks. They are restricted only to one island in Mexico and since the current population came from only 14 individuals, there is not much in the way of genetic diversity. The feeding grounds consist of the Guadalupe Island, the California Current's lower part, and San Benito Islands. These areas are affected by contaminant runoff, offshore oil extraction, and oil tanker traffic, due to their proximity to humans. And since they are fur seals, they are susceptible to oil spills.
The El Niño warm phase of the Pacific also has harmful effects on the population of Guadalupe fur seals. There are hurricanes and storms during this phase. Also, California sea lions share territory with Guadalupe fur seals. California sea lions have suffered viral outbreaks before and they may be a vector for disease transmission to the Guadalupe fur seals via terrestrial sources. Also, exotic animal species may be introduced to the San Benito and Guadalupe Islands by humans and they may carry diseases harmful to these seals as well.
Entanglement in debris in set-net and gillnet fisheries may harm Guadalupe fur seals but there are no direct conflicts with commercial fishing. In the future, when Guadalupe fur seals increase in numbers, there may be some negative interactions with lobster fishermen.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these common dolphin surprising facts and killer whale fun facts pages.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Guadalupe fur seal coloring pages.