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The South American fur seals are cute sea-mammals of the family Otariidae. They are recognized as two subspecies across South America, namely Arctocephalus australis of Falkland Islands and Arctocephalu gracilis - South America. The New Zealand fur seal is sometimes considered a subspecies of Arctocephalus australis. The southern fur seal is a sociable animal as it always lives in large colonies with other seals. Nevertheless, it is somewhat individualistic when it comes to survival and shows little solidarity towards the members of its own colony. The males and females display a particular set of sex-specific behaviors throughout their lifetime. The adult male is known to compete for territory and female mates almost a year prior to mating. The bulls are known to be eight during this time. Although they already reach their reproductive age at seven, they do not mate until they have acquired territory for themselves. The female, however, is known to swim in the depths of oceans at night and walk miles hunting for food during the day all by herself when she is nursing a pup. In a situation like this, the pup is left alone on the shore and might get scrambled by other females. Here, the special communicative bond between the mother and the pup plays a crucial role. The pups are known to have a unique communicative ability, so they can locate their mothers during the time of crisis. However, they can only communicate with their birth mother and none of the other members of their species. One of the most difficult times for the survival of all the fur seals is the crisis of El niño which wipes away a significant amount of life from the sea coasts. Most of the pups are unable to survive due to the increased temperature as an effect of the El niño; adult females and males too suffer to a great degree due to the loss of habitat and inadequate food resources.
The South American fur seal is a marine mammal.
These South American fur seals belong to the Mammalia class of the animal kingdom.
There are eight sub-species of southern fur seals in the world. Currently, the total population of the South American fur seal, including Brazil, Peru, Falkland island, Uruguay, other locations is around 450000. Uruguay was known to have the largest population of the fur seal, but recent data suggests that Falkland island has a higher population.
The Arctocephalus australis (South American fur seal) is found in southern Peru, central Peru, southern Brazil, Falkland Islands, Uruguay, and on the coasts of Argentina and Chile.
The South American fur seal majorly inhabits the coasts of the neotropical oceans of South America. These shores are usually isolated and rocky with steep slopes and whitish sand, which makes up the beautiful scenery. These seals are also known to inhabit caves that are occasionally spotted in their habitats.
Southern American fur seals live in colonies composed of their own species. They also share their habitat with sea birds like seagulls and kelp gulls.
The South American fur seal can live up to 30 years!
The South American fur seals breed between October and December. Males mate when they are eight years old, while the females are prepared to mate as early as three years old. The male seal is polygynous and will have around 13 females in its territory. The adult female produces one pup per breeding season. The gestation period is around a year long which makes them breed only once a year. However, the female might mate again just days after giving birth, and the cycle continues. During the breeding season, all the seals assemble around the shores in large numbers, and they do not enter the waters during this period.
South American fur seals are listed as a species of Least Concern under the IUCN red list due to their high reproductivity rate, long age, and isolated habitat. They are also listed as 'increasing' while talking about conservation status. However, the events of El Niño pose a great threat to the population. El Niño has always been around, but it's global warming that's making the effects of this phenomenon worse and worse with each passing year. This means that the revival of the population is prone to be affected greatly, although they have a decent birth rate. If the effects continue to worsen, a lot of the population across regions like Chile and Peru would be pushed towards endangerment.
The South American fur seal has a furry coat with tiny hair. They have tiny ears, and a distinctive rhinarium with a snout pointed slightly upwards. The two sexes, however, have minor anatomical variations and can be differentiated based on those. Males are grayish-black and develop manes of longer guard hairs on their neck and shoulders. Females, on the other hand, are dark brown or grayish-brown in color and the juveniles share the same color features as the females. The males are 6.5 ft (2 m) and weigh 330-440 lb (150–200 kg) and are bigger than the females that are 4.9 ft (1.5 m) and weigh 66-132 lb (30–60 kg). Newborns are 1.9-2.1 ft (60-65 cm) and 7.7-12.1 lb (3.5-5.5 kg). However, interestingly there are regional variations in sizes. The adult male seals in Uruguay are half times bigger than the males in Peru, whereas the females in Uruguay are three-quarters the size of females in Peru and are smaller.
The marine mammals look super cute with their furry teddy bear-like appearance.
The South American fur seals communicate using vocal noises. The mother and the pup have a special call that is individual to each pair. Studies indicate that a pup only recognizes its mother's voice.
The South American fur seal is almost twice as smaller as the leopard seal, which is 7.9–11.5 ft (2.4-3.5 m).
The fur seal (South American) moves with a speed of 12.4 mph (20 kph) on land.
South American fur seals weigh almost two times less than the leopard seal, which is around 440-1,320 lb (200-600 kg).
The adult males and females are known by different names. The females are called cows and the males are called bulls.
The baby American fur seal south is called a pup.
The South American fur seal diet includes a variety of sea animals like shrimps and fish. In Uruguay and Peru, they eat anchovies, krill, and lobsters. Nonetheless, they are also preyed on, and the South American fur seal predators include whales and South American sea lions.
No, they are not poisonous.
The fur seals are undoubtedly very cute animals; you'd instantly feel like snuggling up to them the moment you see them. However, they can be dangerous to humans because they are wild animals and not suitable to be kept in domestic areas.
The adult males of this species are migratory, but the females are non-migratory.
A bunch of South American fur seals is collectively known by multiple names, which include pod, colony, crash, flock, harem, bob, herd, rookery, or team.
The biggest difference between the fur seals and sea lions is their anatomy. The sea lion is a species that has well-developed limbs which enable it to actually walk across, whereas the fur seal only has flappers, which it uses to drag itself to commute to places. Fur seals can't really walk. Another big difference is size. Any seal species tend to be smaller than sea lion species, which is also the case with fur seals. Moreover, sea lions also have different features from the fur seals, such as longer noses with eyes pulled back, whereas the fur seals have a tiny snout with eyes in the front. A unique feature of the fur seal is its tiny ears. Most seals don't have ears thus, the ears are comparable with the sea lion. The sea lions have slightly bigger than tend to be outward, but the fur seals have tiny ears. The last difference between the two species is that the flaps of the fur seals are wide and spread out, whereas the flaps of the sea lion are more like limbs and are tinier.
It is of popular knowledge that the males of this species are very aggressive and territorial. What is less known is the fact the females, too are somewhat cold, if not actively aggressive. While the males are known to fight tooth and nail and get bruised while fighting for a territory, the females can actually run over the pups that don't belong to them. They do not have any solidarity with pups other than their own.
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 sea lion facts and royal penguin facts.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable seal coloring pages.
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