Galapagos Fur Seal

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

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.

Recommended Reading

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides). Click to order from Amazon

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)

With 250 photos and tons of great information, this is an essential addition to your pre-Ecuador and -Galapagos reading!

There are better guides if you are only interested in the islands, but for a combination trip taking in Ecuador as well, it's hard to beat.


Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands. Click to order from Amazon

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Small enough to fit into your pocket, yet containing comprehensive information and pictures of all the species you will encounter in the islands, this book is a must-have for nature lovers.

Let's face it, Galapagos is largely about the wildlife. This book will NOT disappoint, and you'll have a great memento of your time with the seals, penguins and tortoises!


Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World. Click to order from Amazon

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World

Definitely NOT a tourist's guide, but if you're like me, and find the history and geography of the islands irresistible, then this is a title you ought to invest in.

Stunningly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, those of you who have been there will be enchanted again -- and those of you who have not will begin planning your trip!


Moon Spotlight Galapagos. Click to order from Amazon

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands

If you're a seasoned Galapagos regular, then you will probably prefer something weightier.

But for first-timers looking for simple, down-to-earth advice on where to go, what to see and the best shopping and eating on the islands, this is the book for you.

Small, well-priced, and reliable!


Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire. Click to order from Amazon

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire

The 10th anniversary edition of this photographer's tour of the Galapagos Islands is a stunning book, worthy of anybody's coffee table.

This is a perfect post-trip talking point -- a great way to remember what you've seen, and spread the word amongst your envious friends!


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