Subantarctic fur seal
Photo: N Gales
Scientific name: Arctocephalus tropicalis
Weight: Females 35 kg; males 88-165 kg
Length: Females 1.4 m; males 2 m
Breeding age: 4-6 years for females 8 years for males
Breeding frequency: Annual
Breeding season: November - early January
Age to weaning: 10 months
Longevity: 25 years for females, 20 years for males
Name Derivation: Arctocephalus roughly translates to ‘bear-headed’, the specific name 'tropicalis' is from the Greek word tropikos, meaning tropical. This species was first identified from a specimen mistakenly thought to have come from the northern coast of Australia.
What do I eat? Myctophid fish and some squid
Range trip time: When nursing, females forage on 5-12 day trips in summer, in winter these increase to 18-28 days
Extreme dive depth/time: 208 m / 6.5 minutes
Distribution & Abundance
Distribution: Breed on islands north of the Antarctic Convergence. Heard Island's location south of this oceanographic front result in very few breeding animals are present on Heard Island. Wandering individuals, mostly young males, have been reported from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Population Status: Population numbers are increasing in most colonies, except on subantarctic Îles Crozet.
Conservation Status: The species is a listed marine species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and is protected by a number of international agreements (e.g. listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (CCAS) under the Antarctic Treaty).
The species is also covered by the Sub-antarctic Fur Seal and Southern Elephant Seal Recovery Plan and the Action Plan for Australian Seals 1999.
No subantarctic fur seal colonies are present on Heard Island. However females occasionally haul out here to pup.
To find more information on other Heard Island seals click on the links below.