fur seal

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Related to northern fur seals: Callorhinus ursinus, Callorhinus

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.
Coast Guard, whose ships had been assigned to the Bering Sea to protect the northern fur seal from illegal exploitation, also may have contributed in a major way, both directly and indirectly, to the extirpation of those polar bears.
During the 346 survey days in the eastern Aleutians in June-September 2002-2004, the largest number of pinniped sightings was of northern fur seals (375 sightings), which were frequently encountered as single individuals resting at the surface, or were observed on the rookery at Bogoslof Island.
In the 1930's, during late fall and winter, there were 2,000-3,000 Steller sea lions present (Barabash-Nikiforov, 1935; Ognev, 1935), but Barabash-Nikiforov (1935) noted that with the onset of the breeding season almost all sea lions left the islands; only sea lions that were on the haulouts with northern fur seals remained.
Then the Russians discovered the Pribilof Islands--the breeding ground of the northern fur seal.
Under two different food resource conditions, lactating northern fur seals maintain foraging trip duration by increasing metabolic rate (Costa and Gentry 1986) while Antarctic females maintained their metabolic rate and increased foraging trip duration (Costa et al.
A Russian fur company relocated Unungan (Aleut) natives from the Aleutian Islands to the Pribilof Islands to aid in the harvest of northern fur seals, which returned annually to these islands to breed and bear their young.
The percent overlap between age classes of walleye pollock caught by the commercial trawl fishery and age classes of walleye pollock consumed by northern fur seals varied noticeably between sample types for both islands (scats: St.
Like northern fur seals, Pacific harbor seals, spotted and ringed seals, major groundfish species and some of the world's largest breeding colonies of kittiwakes, murres, and puffins, Steller sea lions rely on walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma).
I do not think investigation into the behavior of northern fur seals within the rookery setting will give any information into the violent behavior of humans," says biologist Terry Spraker, who has not found any evidence of stress-related cardiac malfunctions in fur seals during the 14 years he has studied the animals.
These people have always depended on northern fur seals for tasty meat and warm clothing.

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