It’s not hard to spot a New Zealand fur seal sunbathing on the rocks around most of New Zealand’s coastline. They are also great travellers and can be found as far as the Subantarctic Islands and around Australia.
New Zealand fur seals are slightly different from other seals, as they have ears and hind flippers that rotate forward. Like other seals, they also have a pointy nose and long whiskers. New Zealand fur seals have two layers of fur, which is so dense that one small piece can cover a dog a similar size to a Labrador. The colour of their fur coats allows seals to camouflage themselves making them hard to spot.
Once on the brink of extinction due to being hunted in the 1800s for their fur and blubber, the New Zealand fur seals are now protected, and their population has risen to around 100,000 in New Zealand and a similar number in Australia.
New Zealand fur seals live for around 17 years.
Male New Zealand fur seals have been known to grow as large as 250kgs, but the average is around 120-150kgs. Females weigh in at around 30-50kgs. When a pup is born, it is around 3-3.5kgs
New Zealand fur seals can plunge under the sea at a speed of 50 km / hour and up to 200m deep. This enables them to hunt and feed on squid, octopus and fish like Barracuda, Flounder, Hagfish, Lamprey, Red Cod, School Shark, and many other species. For the Banks Peninsula seals 90% of their diet is Lantern Fish.
Female New Zealand fur seals generally get pregnant every year with just one pup, and it is very rare for a fur seal to have more than one pup at a time. Although fur seals conceive 12 months prior to giving birth, the gestational period is actually only 10 months, due to the seals having the ability to put their pregnancy on hold to coincide with giving birth in the summer months. Once born the pups will have a mix of milk from their mother, and when slightly older also feed on small fish. Then at around 10 months, they are fully weaned onto a solid fish diet. Pups spend a lot of time playing with each other and in the many rock pools.