Northern Fur Seal

Callorhinus ursinus

Distinctive features: Short, downward-curved muzzle; distinct ears. Males are stocky, have a mane of coarse hair, and are medium-grey to black or reddish-brown; females are more modest in size and usually dark silver-grey.

Size: Females are much smaller than males: bulls may reach 2.1 m and 270 kg, cows, 1.5 m and 50 kg or more.

Diet: schooling and non-schooling fish, squid.

Predators: Sharks, stellar sea lions, and killer whales.

Population: An estimated 1.29 million northern fur seals (2014); this is a 50% decline since 1976. Northern Fur Seals are not hunted in Canada.

IUCN Status: Vulnerable; population status: decreasing

COSEWIC Status: Threatened

Range

North Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, and the Sea of Japan.

Life Cycle

Bulls arrive at rookeries before females to set up and loudly defend territory. Cows generally give birth the day after arrival; they will mate again within a week. Mothers will leave their pups about 8 days after birth for their first foraging trip. These trips may last up to a week and take place regularly until the pup is finished nursing, at about four months.

At that point, the pup leaves the shore and does not haul out again for two or three years, until they return to the island of their birth.