fur seal

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Related to Fur seals: Southern Fur Seal

fur seal,

fin-footed marine mammal of the eared seal family (Otaridae), highly valued for its fur. Like the closely related sea lionsea lion,
fin-footed marine mammal of the eared seal family (Otariidae). Like the other member of this family, the fur seal, the sea lion is distinguished from the true seal by its external ears, long, flexible neck, supple forelimbs, and hind flippers that can be turned forward
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, the nine species of fur seals are distinguished from the true sealseal,
carnivorous aquatic mammal with front and hind feet modified as flippers, or fin-feet. The name seal is sometimes applied broadly to any of the fin-footed mammals, or pinnipeds, including the walrus, the eared seals (sea lion and fur seal), and the true seals, also called
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 by external ears and the ability to turn their hind flippers forward for walking on land. The northern, or Alaskan, fur seal, Callorhinus ursinus, has an outer coat of long coarse hair known as guard hair and an inner coat of thick soft fur; it is the inner coat that is valued in the fur trade. Males are dark brown and females and young are grayish. The male is about 6 ft (1.8 m) long and weighs up to 600 lb (270 kg), while the smaller female is up to 4 ft (1.2 m) long and seldom weighs more than 110 lbs (50 kg). Herds of northern fur seals, mostly females and juveniles, winter in open ocean along the Pacific coast of North America, migrating in spring to breeding beaches that range from the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea to San Miguel Island off California. Adult males, who usually winter separately, arrive at the islands weeks ahead of the females. During the breeding season the most aggressive males establish individual territories and have harems averaging 40 to 50 females, which they defend against other males. Mating occurs after the birth of the young conceived the previous summer; each female bears a single pup after a gestation period of almost a year. The pups nurse for about a month but remain with the mother for another 2 or 3 months. Mothers often leave pups for days to feed on squid and fish. By the early 20th cent. the northern fur seal population was reduced to about 200,000 as the result of wanton slaughter. An international treaty signed in 1911 limited hunting to a fixed number of nonbreeding males per year. By 1976 the world population had increased to almost 2 million; since then it has declined, for reasons still unclear. The United States prohibited the hunting of fur seals in 1985. Southern fur seals, such as Arctocephalus gazella and other species, are similar in size and appearance to the northern fur seal. Although their fur is not considered desirable, they have been hunted almost to extinction. Both southern and northern fur seals migrate, while tropical species remain near their breeding grounds. Fur seals are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, suborder Pinnipedia, family Otariidae. See also Bering Sea Fur-Seal Controversy, under Bering SeaBering Sea,
c.878,000 sq mi (2,274,020 sq km), northward extension of the Pacific Ocean between Siberia and Alaska. It is screened from the Pacific proper by the Aleutian Islands. The Bering Strait connects it with the Arctic Ocean.
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Bibliography

See W. N. Bonner, Seals and Man (1982); J. E. King, Seals of the World (1983).

References in periodicals archive ?
Unhealthy northern fur seal pups have been found stranded on beaches in record numbers, newly weaned and weighing little more than the typical birth weight for the species, experts at the Marine Mammal Center near Sausalito said.
Video footage captured by National Geographic Wild shows a fur seal tossing a penguin around on the surface of the sea in a frenzied attack before disembowelling the poor bird - just to get to the fish inside its belly.
Even as young fur seals are apparently compensating for the shortage of mating partners by looking at a king penguin and imagining that it is a female seal.
One of the fur seals there, Molly, 19, was born in France and brought here.
Sea lions and fur seals have small outer ears, while true seals do not.
New Zealand fur seals, generally considered docile, are found along Australia s southern coast and the coast of New Zealand s South Island.
The vast majority of predatory strikes by sharks and Cape fur seals occur against small groups of young-of-the-year seals.
Of all the extractive harvesting documented in the far north, including walrus tusk and beavers (of note, northern fur seals did not migrate beyond the Bering Strait and so there is only glancing coverage of them), the most riveting and seemingly consequential--which is saying a lot because the fur trade wreaked extensive havoc on existing pathways in whatever guise it took--was indeed commercial whaling.
It is home to Pacific and Black Sea bottlenose dolphins and northern fur seals.
Paul, one of Alaska's Pribilof Islands, and there encountered Aleut people who had endured serfdom for ever a century, first from the Russian-American Company and then by US companies and government agencies to harvest fur seals.
Australian fur seals, loggerhead turtle and tawny owl skulls were also among the 52-year-old married man's collection.
Excursions in small inflatable Zodiacs and lengthy hikes brought the group up close to towering icebergs and mountains, expansive glaciers, and several species of the wildlife indigenous to the frozen continent, which include, in addition to penguins, fur seals and humpback and minke whales.