The South African Fur Seal (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus) is an aquatic marine (saltwater) mammal in the Pinnipedia clade and Otariidae family of sea lions and fur seals. It is an otariid or otary – a seal with external ear flaps – and a pinniped – fin footed. It is also known as the Cape Fur Seal or the Brown Fur Seal.
The South African Fur Seal is grey-brown or black with a lighter underbelly, although the female is dark-brown. The male has a thick mane around its neck. It has a sleek, slender build with a thick neck, broad chest, broad shoulders, and a long, protruding face and nose. It has white whiskers on its chin called vibrissae. It has small external ears on the sides of its face.
It has flippers for swimming. Its movement in water is called aquatic locomotion. Its body is streamlined with oily fur for swimming fast underwater. It has a flexible spine (backbone). On land, it walks on its foreflippers (front flippers). It has a fatty body, called blubber, which keeps it warm and buoyant.
It grows to about 240 centimetres (94 inches) long.
It is native to the coastline off southern and south-western Africa, from Namibia to South Africa. It spends most of its time at sea, but it comes to land to breed and to shed its fur. It prefers sandy or rocky beaches.
It feeds on fish and squid, as well as clams. Its predators include the Killer Whale and the Great White Shark.
The South African Fur Seal lives in large colonies from 500-1,500 individuals. The breeding site, which the colonies inhabit for six weeks, is usually a small rocky island or a rocky part of the mainland. The male territory has 7-30 females.
The female is pregnant for 270 days (9 months) before giving birth to one live young, called a pup. The pup is born with black fur. It sheds its juvenile fur and grows adult fur after 4-6 months of age.
Location of photographs: Berlin Zoo, Germany
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM