10 Facts You Didn't Know About New Zealand Fur Seals

1. There are three types of pinnipeds – walruses, true seals and seals. New Zealand fur seals are classed as ‘seals’ and not ‘true seals’, because they have external ear flaps like sea lions as well as other characteristics unique to the ‘seal’ family.

2. Once hunted close to extinction, the fur seal population is recovering with the last estimate of 200,000 back in 2001.

3. In New Zealand, they can be mostly be found along coastlines that have rocky areas for them to haul out on to.

4. Contrary to their name, they can also be found in some parts of Australia!

5. They can dive deeper and longer than any other species of fur seal. They have been recorded diving deeper than 238m and for as long as 11 minutes!

6. Their diet consists of fish, squid, octopus, and crustacea including krill.

7. The New Zealand fur seal is one of the few marine mammals that has delayed implantation. This means that once a female has given birth, she can mate while she is ashore, but the embryo doesn’t grow for 2-4 months. This allows for the embryo to develop over the normal gestation period of 9 months, and the birth will be timed to coincide with the next breeding season.

8. When a fur seal lifts its fore and hind flipper(s) out of the water, this is a behaviour known as jugging. They do this to thermo-regulate the body by keeping some body parts dry.

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

10. The life span of a New Zealand fur seal is up to 15 years.

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