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|Northern Fur Seal|
Male northern fur seals can reach maximum lengths of 6 feet 11inches and almost 600 pounds while females are slightly smaller with a maximum length 4 feet 11 inches and 130 pounds.
Northern fur seals can be found in the cold waters of the Northern Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk.
Belonging to the family Otariidae, along with all fur seal and sea lion species, northern fur seals have external ear flaps, long front flippers and the ability to rotate their hind flipper to move well on land. The hind flippers of the northern fur seal are the largest of any of animals in the fur seal and sea lion family.
Aptly named for their two dense fur coats, the northern fur seal has an outer layer of long, coarse guard hairs (usually dark brown to black in color) in addition to dense, fine underfur estimated to contain 300,000 hairs per square inches. The northern fur seal has a relatively stocky body in comparison to other fur seal and sea lion species and a short snout which gives them a bear like appearance.
Male northern fur seals are easily distinguishable from females by size and appearance. Males of the species are significantly larger than females and at maturity, become broad through the chest and shoulders and develop a mane of stiff, short hairs.
Rarely coming on shore, the northern fur seal will spend most of their life in the open ocean. Some animals may spend several years at sea before returning to rookeries. These animals have developed a “jug-handle” position to sleep while they are at sea.
Northern fur seals feed mostly at night using shallow dives to search for food, but can dive to over 800 feet searching for a variety of schooling fish and squid.
Killer Whales (Orca)
The majority of the northern fur seals breed on select islands off the coast of Alaska. Each spring large male fur seals arrive at breeding areas called “rookeries” to stake their territories. They attract a number of females to their territories and these select males accomplish the majority of the breeding. Females generally have their first pup at five to six years of age and start returning to the breeding islands in June and give birth to a single pup within a few days after arrival on land if they conceived the previous year.
Northern fur seals pass through two phases before they get their adult coat. From birth until first molt in autumn, the young are called “black pups” because their birth coat is black. In late September the birth coat is replaced by “silver” fur (white-tipped guard hairs).
Scientific Name: Callorhinus ursinus
Size: African penguins range from 18 to 25 inches tall and weigh up to 11 pounds
Range/Distribution: The only penguin to breed in Africa, the African penguin ranges from Namibia to South Africa. Young penguins have been known to migrate north and west along the coastline and are found between Southern Angola, Namibia, and sometimes found off Gabon, Congo, and Mozambique, but generally reside in South Africa.
Appearance: The African penguin has a robust, torpedo-shaped body with black feathers on their back, flippers, and head while white feathers cover their front with the exception of horseshoe-shaped black stripe on the chest. Following the penguin’s first few molts a white stripe will develop around its cheek and throat. These birds have a bare patch above their eyes to assist with regulating their body temperature.
Habitat: When not hunting for food in the water, African penguins are found along rocky shores or brushy coastal areas.
Prey: African penguins feed on 25 species of fish, such as sardine and anchovy but also prey on squid and krill. A penguin may eat up to one pound of food or up to 14% of their weight.
Predators: African penguins face predation by gulls, feral cats and mongoose while nesting on land, while sharks and fur seals hunt African penguins in the water.
Life Span: The African penguin may live up to late 30 years in an aquarium or zoo but averages of 15-20 years are seen in the wild populations.
Mating Behaviors: There are no set breeding seasons for African penguins, however, most penguin pairs are monogamous and will remain together over several breeding years. The male will prepare a nest by digging a shallow burrow in sand or in brush using guano (penguin waste) and any materials nearby to complete the nest for the female to lay two eggs. Both the male and female share the nesting and chick duties, keeping the young safe from predators and warm temperatures. The chicks will hatch between 38 and 42 days and will leave the nest when they are between 60 to 130 days of age.
|The mission of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., which includes Mystic Aquarium, Ocean Exploration Center and JASON Learning, is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through conservation, education, and research.|
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