The Galapagos fur seal is an endemic species found only in the Galapagos Islands
Its scientific name is Arctocephalus galapagoensis (it is incorrectly called fur seal, as there are no true seals in Galapagos)
They prefer rocky coastlines and more rugged shores with plenty of shade. This is why fur seals in Galapagos are less often seen than the sea lions.
They can be seen only on the Galapagos Islands (which are located 600 miles west of the coast of Ecuador) and do not share territory or food with the Galapagos sea lion.
Galapagos Fur Seal
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The fur seal in Galapagos is less tolerant of heat than the sea lion and thus prefers cooler waters and shade.
Like the sea lion, the Galapagos fur seal is smaller. Visitors often find them difficult to distinguish from sea lions, but there are certain important differences that can help identifying them.
The major difference is in their coat. This is much thicker in the fur seal, consisting of an outer layer of long hairs and an inner layer of short dense fur.
Their head is broader and shorter. They are smaller in overall size. Males size is about 1.5m and weight around 60 kg. Female's size is about 1.2m and weight around 30 kg. See more Differences Between Fur Seals and Sea Lions in Galapagos
Galapagos fur seals have a grey-brown coat and a short, pointed snout. They hunt during the night and feed on fish, squid and octopus.
They do not share territories or compete for food with Galapagos sea lions. They inhabit in caves in rocky shores and they do not travel too far away from land. They can dive deep in the ocean at distances of up to 160 mt.
The biggest breeding colony is on Isabela Island (Which is the biggest Island in Galapagos).
Fur seals in Galapagos have the longest nursing period of any seal, and pups remain with their mother for 1 to 2 years and sometimes 3 years.
Fur seal pups play and explore around their habitat when their mother is away, but they have to be very careful because other female fur seals can be offensive towards pups that are not their own. Pups can weightbetween 3 to 4 kg at birth.
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The nursing period of a particular pup tends to be longer if food has been scarce during the time of its nursing.
Pups are born between during August to November. Their habitat as we said before is rocky shores with sea caves, and most breeding sites are on the western coasts of the Galapagos Islands.
The voices from the fur seal in Galapagos are different from those of the Galapagos sea lions, being hoarse and more guttural.
During the 19 th century thousands of fur seals were hunted because of their coat. They were hunted almost to extinction.
Now this species is protected from hunting worldwide and especially in the Galapagos Islands.
Some recommended Galapagos Sites to observe the Galapagos fur seal are at the shores of the Islands of Isabela, Santiago, and in Darwin Bay.
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