Antarctic Fur Seal

The Antarctic fur seal, Arctocephalus gazella, is the remaining seal species to be found in the Antarctic. Unlike the species described earlier, this is not a true seal, but a member of the group of eared seals, which includes sea lions.

The Antarctic fur seal was very heavily exploited by fur hunters in the 19th century; the total population was reduced to a few thousand, and in some places such as the South Shetland Islands, probably totally exterminated. With protection since the early years of this century, it has shown a remarkable recovery from a population center at South Georgia. Here the seals have been increasing at approximately 17 per cent per year, so that the whole population doubles in about five breeding seasons.

As a result of this population explosion, fur seals are now commonly encountered on many islands groups in western Antarctica, including the South Sandwich, South Orkney and South Shetland Islands. Away from the breeding grounds, the animals most likely to be seen are young male or non-breeding adults.

Fur seals produce their pups in December in dense colonies. The male holds a territory and actively defends a group of females. Their food consists mainly of krill, although smaller quantities of fish and squid may also be taken.


 • Antarctic Fur Seals
Information on the Antarctic Fur seal including taxonomy.
 • Seals
Links to information on the Crabeater, Elephant, Antarctic Fur, Leopard and Weddell seals.