South American Fur Seal
Little is known about the lives of these Falkand Island dwellers
What you need to know about the South American Fur Seal
Our Expert Says… "It can be difficult to distinguish these animals from sea lions if you spot them in the water. The sea lions have a more rounded snout, whereas the South American fur seals are more pointed. At-sea encounters are most likely when leaving or arriving back to the Beagle Channel."
Relatively little is known about the life of the South American Fur Seal. It’s thought there might be about 250,000 individuals of the species, but scientific studies and population censuses have been few and far between.
The South American Fur Seal can be found in places along the coasts of much of southern Peru, around Cape Horn, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. There’s a globally significant breeding colony on the Falkland Islands, where around 35,000 pups are born each year. The Falkland Island population of South American Fur Seals has been recognized as a sub-species.
South American Fur Seals are dark brown or gray in color, with the males much larger than females. Males grow to about 2m (6ft 6”) long and can weigh up to 200kg (440lb), and when mature they develop a “mane” of longer fur around their shoulders and necks.
These seals prefer rocky shorelines to colonize, particularly if they are backed by steep slopes or cliffs. Very little is known about how the South American Fur Seals spend their time foraging outside of the breeding season. Some tracking of individuals from the Falklands colonies has been done and they were seen to wander over vast areas of the Patagonian Shelf.