Galapagos Fur Seal

The Galapagos fur seal is endemic to the islands, living in colonies by the shores.

Galapagos Fur Seal

They spend about 70% of their time on land, more than any other seal, entering the water only in search of food. They feed at night when fish are easier to catch. They have a grey-brown coat of thick fur, large eyes and ears. The male is larger than the female and has a thicker neck. They have few predators though sharks and orcas have been known to feed on them occasionally.

The mating season lasts from mid-August to mid-November. At this time females claim their own territory in which they rear their pups. They produce just one pup at a time. Mothers leave their pups only to look for food, using smell and sound to recognise their own pup amongst the group on their return.

Young pups rely on their mother’s milk for at least the first 18 months and longer if conditions are unfavourable, so it is usual for a mother to be rearing more than one pup simultaneously. Females become fully mature in the third year while males take longer, up to 5 or 6 years to reach full maturity.

The population declined in the 19th century when thousands of fur seas were killed by poachers for their fur.  In 1959 laws were introduced for their protection and the population is now largely stable, although it did suffer a decrease following El Nino in 1982-3, and is now numbered around the 40,000 mark.