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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Northern Fur Seal Callorhinus ursinus

Of the nine species of fur seals, most live in the Southern Hemisphere; this is the only northern species that exists in significant numbers. Like other fur seals, it has a thick, dark coat, external ears, and long front flippers that it uses for swimming and for moving around on land. Males can be five times heavier than females, but both sexes have short muzzles, giving them a characteristic snub-nosed look. Their large eyes allow them to see at night, which is when they do most of their feeding, as their prey is closer to the surface. They feed mainly on fish, but also on squid and sea birds, and migrate far out into the Pacific after they breed. Most northern fur seals breed on islands in the Bering Sea. Decimated by commercial hunters from the mid-1700s onward, they are now protected by hunting controls.

Northern Fur Sealzoom image
  • Order Carnivora
  • Length 4–7 ft (1.4–2.1 m)
  • Weight 110–600 lb (50–270 kg)
  • Habitat Coasts and sea in cold-water regions
  • Distribution North Pacific, Bering Sea
Northern Fur Seal habitat mapzoom image