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Northern Fur Seal

Northern Fur Seal

Sentinel Digital Desk

Flaunting a thick mane of fur, Northern Fur seals are friendly and lovable creatures. They use their hind flippers for locomotion or motion as well as for being nimble underwater acrobats. Quite expertly, they roll and dive deep while hunting for a meal. This northern fur seal is found in open waters and on specific (breeding) sites from the Channel Islands, off southern California and right across the North Pacific Ocean through the Bering Sea to the Sea of Japan.

It is solitary and nocturnal at sea. It sleeps during the day time, while floating on their side. They rarely come upon land, except for when they have to breed. They are often found in water which has a temperature of 6-11 degree Celsius around 48-100kms offshore. This species of seal can travel further as compared with any other seal species, especially during (seasonal) migrations. Migrations can be from small islands in the east of the Russian Federation southeast through the Gulf of Alaska and treading as far as the south seas off the Mexican border. They are more mobile when they are on land as compared with most of the species of seal. Their long flippers can rotate under their bodies, while helping to support and balance their movement.

They are most active during the evenings and early morning. They are also active hroughout the night when their prey are closer. Although usually seen moving solitary or in small groups, but these seals often come together in larger groups of 20.

They feast on fish and eat more than 75 varieties of fish with a preference for white-fleshed young Pollock and squid as they are easily available in the open ocean. Herring, antern fish, rockfish, and anchovies are also their common prey species. Male seals arrive at the main breeding grounds early (starting of June) to establish their territories that they protect a lot. Then female seals arrive later after which they give birth to one pup. Seal's baby is known as pup.

Pups are weaned by four months until early August, when their dad returns to the ocean followed by juveniles, females.

They are very vulnerable to seal hunting, trapping for food, and funnilly, to the culling by fisherman as they compete for the same fish.

But the fur trade has heavily exploited and threatened their existence. Since, they are susceptible to contaminants, pollutants and to injuries from equipment like fishing boats and nets, they suffer damage, even to their habitat, which affects the pups even more.

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