Pinipeds (Carnivora)

New Zealand Fur Seal

New Zealand Fur Seal

New Zealand Fur Seal

Elm conservation area - New Zealand Fur Seals in rock pool

New Zealand Fur Seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) (Kekeno)

The New Zealand Fur Seal has been a conservation success story. In the 1880's it was hunted close to extinction by European settlers but has made a dramatic recovery over the last few years. There are now healthy populations around the Otago Peninsula.

New Zealand Fur Seals, as the name suggests, have a very dense layer of secondary fur underneath the visible grey-brown guard hairs. Unlike sealions which rely on blubber to keep them warm, fur seals rely on their cosy secondary layer of dense fur.

Adult male fur seals can grow up to 2.5 metres and weigh up to 185 kg. The females are smaller, growing up to 1.5 metres and weighing 50kg.

Breeding occurs in November and December with large males defending breeding territories containing many females. Females reach sexual maturity at four years and usually have their first pup at five years. About eight days after the birth of their pup, the female mates with the group's male. By August the pups are weaned and the females return to sea to feed until November.