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South American Fur Seal

Arctocephalus australis australis; Artocephalus australis gracilis
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The South American Fur Seal is actually two sub-species of seal found in South American waters. Artocephalus australis gracilis is found on the coasts of Peru Argentina, and the coasts of Brazil and Uruguay. Arctocephalus australis australis is mostly found in the Falkland Islands

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The South American Fur Seal is actually two sub-species of seal found in South American waters. Artocephalus australis gracilis is found on the coasts of Peru Argentina, and the coasts of Brazil and Uruguay. Arctocephalus australis australis is mostly found in the Falkland Islands.

The male South American fur seal grows to 2 metres in length and usually weighs around 160 kg. The female is smaller, usually growing to 1.5 metres and weighing half the weight of the male.

Adult males are usually blackish grey, while females and young of both sexes are dark brown to greyish black with lighter fur under the neck, face and ears.

The seals feed on anchovies and other small school fish, krill, rock lobster, shell-fish and sea snails.

Adult females remain near the rookeries all year, giving birth between mid October and December to pups that are weaned between 7 and 36 months. Little is known about the movements of adult and juvenile males beyond the breeding season.

The seals remain a source of food and clothing for many indigenous peoples of southern South America, and were hunted by Europeans from the second decade of the sixteenth century for their skins and as a source of oil.

Nearly all South American countries have banned sealing, but fur seals continue to be hunted illegally by coastal communities, and in many areas risk drowning through becoming entangled in fishing nets.

 

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Prepared by: Turnbull, P.
Created: 6 November 2001
Modified: 1 December 2001

Published by South Seas, 1 February 2004
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: Paul.Turnbull@jcu.edu.au
Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Updated: 28 June 2004
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-biogs-P000128

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