Fun Subantarctic Fur Seal Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Subantarctic Fur Seal Facts For Kids

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The subantarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus tropicalis) are associated with a couple of other seal species like the Antarctic fur seals and New Zealand fur seals. They are the easiest to confuse with the Antarctic fur seal who generally breed in more northerly locations. The subantarctic fur seals are generally found on temperate islands in the South Atlantic, and Indian Oceans north of the Antarctic Polar Front. The subantarctic fur seals have a greater geographical presence. Hunting and foraging are important survival behaviors for the species as they need to retain the buffer resources to utilize during the season of low food availability. Thus they are known to practice extreme fasting to preserve their metabolism for the offseason. Unlike other seals, the pups are independent in finding their food. Body mass is an important factor in growth rate and survival during the period of pup dependence. The females tend to transfer the required amount of care and optimum mass of the weight to the pup before the pups are on their own, but they don't make foraging trips for the pup. Moreover, pups born second or later in line tend to be healthier and have more mass. Probably because the females tend to give better care. The mother doesn't forage for the pup, and the adult males are just as territorial and polygamous. They can often be spotted in pairs, and the possible interpretations are them being mates or a parent and a juvenile. Almost 99% of pup production takes place in the southern hemisphere at specific sites, which are the breeding colonies like the Gough Island, the Prince Edward Islands, and Amsterdam Island. 

If you like this article, do check out some other relatable content like these leopard seal facts and harbor seal facts.

Fun Subantarctic Fur Seal Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Fish, shrimp, crabs

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

110-352 lb (50-160 kg)

How long are they?

4.5-6.5 ft (1.4-2 m)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Brown, cream

Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Habitat Loss, Global Warming

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them?

Temperate Islands, South Atlantic Ocean


New Zealand, Macquarie Island, Amsterdam, South America









Subantarctic Fur Seal Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a subantarctic fur seal?

The subantarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus tropicalis) are pinnipeds, which is the family of seals.

What class of animal does a subantarctic fur seal belong to?

The sub antarctic fur seal is a sea mammal. Thus it belongs to the Mammalia class of the animal kingdom.

How many subantarctic fur seals are there in the world?

It is interesting to note that the subantarctic fur seals are habitual wanderers. They are seen wandering off the coasts, which stretch as far as Brazil In South America, Angola in Africa, and the edge of Australia and New Zealand. More than 75,000 pups are born annually, and the population totaled up from all the locations is estimated between 270,000-350,000.

Where does a subantarctic fur seal live?

The largest colonies are found at Macquarie Island, Gough, Amsterdam, and the Prince Edward Islands. While the major breeding grounds include Gough and Macquarie Island in the southern hemisphere. The newly established colonies of the subantarctic fur seals include the islands at Tristan da Cunha.

What is a subantarctic fur seal’s habitat?

The subantarctic fur seal habitat is quite a scenic beauty. They live on the cold, rocky shores of Antarctica, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and South America, with tides frequenting the coast and alluring white sand on the side. Such locations can be spotted in the temperate islands in the South Atlantic, the northern Antarctic Polar Front, and the territories of the Indian Ocean. Such spots are ideal for establishing breeding colonies for these seals.

Who do subantarctic fur seals live with?

The subantarctic fur seals are usually spotted in packs at the ocean shore, which are their homes and breeding grounds, but their group behavior is only specific to the breeding season. They share their habitat with many other species. For example, the Macquarie Island fosters all three species of fur seal - the Antarctic fur seals, the sub-Antarctic fur seals as well the New Zealand fur seals, which occur in large numbers. Of the three species, however, the sub-Antarctic fur seal and the Antarctic fur seals breed on the island whereas the fur seals while the New Zealand fur seals do not.

How long does a subantarctic fur seal live?

On average, the sub-Antarctic fur seals live up to 18-25 years of age, and the females are known to outlive the males.

How do they reproduce?

The male subantarctic fur seals are polygamous. They create territories near the rocky shores for breeding which contain up to 20 females to mate with. The breeding season begins after the winter when the males arise from the ocean. They will aggressively defend the territory until the entire mating is complete. The pups are born just weeks before completing a year of gestation. The female will diligently raise the pups until they are ready to be on their own. However, the pups have to take care of their own diet from an early age. The mothers and the pups make separate foraging trips. Surprisingly, the male subantarctic fur seals reach their puberty much before the females. They reach the age of reproductivity as early as three to four years while the female is not mature until five years; while in the case of the South American fur seal, it's the female seal who reaches puberty first.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the subantarctic fur seals is listed as Least Concern as of 2020. It only defines that the population is currently stable and hasn't ever been threatened. Major threats include illegal hunting and poaching with habitat loss.

Subantarctic Fur Seal Fun Facts

What do subantarctic fur seals look like?

 The subantarctic fur seals, males and females, are nearly similar in appearance. It has a brown furry coat with tiny hairs and a creamish underbelly. Their coat is smoother rather than coarse. They have moderate tiny ears, and a distinctive rhinarium with a snout pointed slightly upwards. The males and females, however, differ heavily in their sizes, and adult males are some three times heavier than adult females.

A pup of the sub-Antarctic fur seal is cute.

How cute are they?

With their brown fur and cute rounded bodies, it is impossible to deny that they are more or less giant teddy bears!

How do they communicate?

The sub-Antarctic fur seal communicates using vocal noises, smell, and visual perception. The male channelizes its voice to demarcate its territory while the female mother shares a special call that is individual to each pair. Studies indicate that a pup only recognizes its mother's voice.

How big is a subantarctic fur seal?

The subantarctic fur seal is who is no bigger than 6.5 ft (200 cm) is just a few inches smaller than the Steller sea lion who is 7.5-10.7 ft (230-325 cm).

How fast can a subantarctic fur seal move?

While the subantarctic fur seals can move at a speed of 12.4 mph (20 kph) on land, they can reach greater speeds underwater while swimming.

How much does a subantarctic fur seal weigh?

The subantarctic fur seals being no more than 363 lb (165 kg), are almost seven times smaller than the Steller sea lion, a resident of the sub-Arctic coastal regions, which weighs around 530-2470 lb (240-1120 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The subantarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus tropicalis) males are known as bulls while the female of the species is known as a cow.

What would you call a baby subantarctic fur seal?

Just like any other seal, a baby sub-Antarctic fur seal is known as a pup.

What do they eat?

The diet of the subantarctic fur seals is scattered in patches. It does not have a regular feeding pattern due to the scattered food resources. Not all the food resources are available at once, in the same place thus, their diets vary significantly during the summers and winters. In summers, they feed on squid, cephalopods, crustaceans, and fishes while it mostly hunts down the Rockhopper penguins in the winter. Overall, the prey availability defines their diet. Although they are quite predatory, they get hunted down too. They fall prey to bigger mammals like the killer whales who engulf the seals as they enter deeper waters.

Are they poisonous?

No, the subantarctic fur seals are not poisonous, but they can be harmful to humans as they are natural hunters.

Would they make a good pet?

Although they are cute, they would certainly not make good pets. They are wild animals, and it is not practical to domesticate them indoors.

Did you know...

The adult female subantarctic fur seals have bigger flippers than their male counterparts.

Currently, the Marion Islands foster South American fur seal populations from Nova Scotia and South Georgia. Macquarie islands.

Are subantarctic fur seals endangered?

The subantarctic fur seals once neared extinction in the 19th century. Their revival took place in the Macquarie island later in the 20th century. Although this species was reduced to low numbers by commercial sealing by the early 20th century, the population has since grown to some 400,000, and its conservation designation is Least Concern. Nonetheless, global warming and climate change have constantly been affecting their natural habitats. However, governmental efforts have been taken to stop illegal poaching and hunting down of the fur seals ever since.

What is the difference between fur seals and sea lions?

The biggest difference between the fur seals and sea lions is that of 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 that of the 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.

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 Weddell seal facts and harp seal facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable subantarctic fur seal coloring pages.


Second image by Nicolas Servera.

<p>A dedicated content writer and language enthusiast, Ritika holds a Bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature from Fergusson College. With a keen interest in linguistics and literary adaptations, she has conducted extensive research in these domains. Beyond her academic pursuits, Ritika actively volunteers at her university, providing academic and on-campus assistance to fellow students.</p>

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