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Guadalupe Fur Seals

Kingdom:

Animalia

Phylum:

Chordata

Class:

Mammalia

Order:

Carnivora

Family:

Otariidae

Genus:

Arctocephalus  

Species:

townsendi


What is taxonomy?

Because Guadalupe fur seals are rare and live mostly at Guadalupe Island, relatively little is known about them compared to other fur seal species. Guadalupe fur seals have long collie-like snouts, chestnut brown fur with a thick mane around the neck, and short rear flippers which distinguish them from the other fur seal in the northern hemisphere, the northern fur seal. They make high-pitched woofing sounds when they are threatened. Guadalupe fur seals occupy volcanic caves along the island shores of tropical islands. Because Guadalupe fur seals live in a tropical habitat but have thick fur for insulation, they must take swims during the heat of the day to protect themselves from heat exhaustion. Even the territorial males must abandon their territories to cool off in the surf during the middle of the day.

Interesting Facts:

  • Guadalupe fur seals were thought to be extinct in the late 1800's and early 1900's but in 1928, two fur seals were sighted at Isle de Guadalupe off the coast of Mexico.
  • Guadalupe fur seals are protected by Mexican and U.S. laws. Because of this protection, the Guadalupe fur seal population has been growing steadily and is estimated at over 7,000 animals.
  • Guadalupe fur seals breed on Isle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico. But in 1997, a pup was born on San Miguel Island, California.
  • The Guadalupe fur seal is the only species of Arctocephalus found north of the equator!
  • Not much is known about the Guadalupe fur seal! This means that humans do not bother them much.
  • Guadalupe fur seals nurse their pups for 8 to 9 months!
  • Mothers and pups identify each other by unique vocalizations and scent.

What should I know about Guadalupe fur seals?

Where do Guadalupe fur seals live?

Guadalupe fur seals breed on Isla de Guadalupe and Isla Benito del Este off the coast of Baja California, Mexico.  Guadalupe fur seals are sighted as far south as the Mexico / Guatemala border, and as far north as the Point Reyes National Seashore in California.  In 1997 one Guadalupe fur seal was born on San Miguel Island off the California coast.

How many Guadalupe fur seals are there?

The Guadalupe fur seal is the rarest of the fur seals. In 1993, the population was estimated at over 7,000.

How can I identify Guadalupe fur seals?

Guadalupe fur seals have elongated snouts and pointy noses.  They have large eyes and small ears  They are dark brown and have a lighter colored chest.  Adult male Guadalupe fur seals measure up to 6 feet in length and weigh an average of 350 pounds, while adult females measure an average of 4.5 feet in length and weigh only 100 pounds. 

What do Guadalupe fur seals eat?

We only know that the Guadalupe fur seal eats rockfish and squid.

How do Guadalupe fur seals have their young?

Pups are born between June and early August.  About a week after giving birth the mother leaves to feed at sea.  The mother will stay at sea for 9-13 days before returning to nurse her pup, for 5-6 days, at the rookery.  The mother continues to alternate feeding trips to sea with nrusing periods ashore until she weas the pup when it is 8 to 9 months old.

How long do Guadalupe fur seals live? How do they die?

We do not know how long a Guadalupe fur seal lives, but the estimate is 17 to 20 years..

Guadalupe fur seal pups may die when they are battered against rocks during severe storms. Juveniles and adults may die from entanglement in drift gillnets of commercial fishing operations or may be eaten by sharks.

Where can I find more information about Guadalupe fur seals?

Go back.


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