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(eared seals), a family of mammals of the order Pinnipedia. The family includes sea lions (five genera, with five species) and fur seals (two genera, with six or nine species).
The eared seals, which are evidently descended from primitive bearlike creatures, are polygamous herd animals. Adult males are 1.5 to four times larger than the females. Unlike other pinnipeds, members of the family have small external ears. The flippers have a cartilaginous leading edge. There are no claws on the fore flippers; the hind flippers can turn forward to support the animal when it moves on land. In the northern hemisphere, eared seals are found in the Pacific Ocean in a broad arc from Korea to the Bering Sea and southern California; in the southern hemisphere they occur in South America, southwestern Africa, and southern Australia and near the islands in the southern Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans.
Eared seals avoid ice floes. They breed and molt primarily on islands, where they make lairs. They winter in the ocean. The animals feed on fish, cephalopods, and sometimes crustaceans. Two species inhabit waters of the USSR: Steller’s sea lion and the northern fur seal. The eared seals are commercially valuable, and the pelt of the northern fur seal is particularly sought after.
REFERENCESMlekopitaiushchie fauny SSSR, parts 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.
Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 6. Moscow, 1971.
Mlekopitaiushchie Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 2, part 3. Edited by V. G. Geptner and N. P. Naumov. Moscow, 1976.
K. K. CHAPSKII