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Guadalupe Fur Seal Arctocephalus townsendi


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Guadalupe Fur Seal
credit: NOAA

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Family: Otariidae, Eared Seals view all from this family

Description Males have a large head with a long pointed snout. Females are like Northern Fur Seals, but have larger flippers, with fur on the foreflipper. Toes on hind flippers are all similar in size. Males do not have enlarged head crest found in other fur seals. Dry fur is brown or dusky black and has a thick, grizzled appearance compared with coarser hair of sea lions. Now breeds and pups only at Guadalupe and Islas San Benito in Baja California, Mexico. A threatened species, rookeries on Southern California islands were hunted to local extinction at the turn of the nineteenth century. Uses precipitous rocky coasts and caves. Hunts fish and squid in the open sea.

Dimensions 1.9-2.4m, 150-220kg; / 1.4-1.9m, 40-55kg

Endangered Status The Guadalupe Fur Seal is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as threatened in California. The Guadalupe Fur Seal was nearly exterminated by seal hunters in the 1800s; by 1892 only seven individuals were known to exist. Although a fisherman sold two males to the San Diego Zoo in 1928, and one seal was seen on San Nicolas Island off southern California in 1949, very few were found until 1954 when 14 were sighted on Guadalupe Island, off Baja California. Mexico declared Guadalupe Island a seal sanctuary in 1975, and by 1987 the seal population numbered about 3,259 (including 998 new pups). Later counts indicate numbers around 6,000. A bull established a territory on San Nicolas Island in 1988 and returned there each year through 1991.

Habitat Beaches, shorelines & estuaries

Range California