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Sand and Sea
There are eight species of southern fur seals, all smaller than their northern relative. They include the Guadalupe fur seal of Baja California, the South African fur seal, the South American fur seal, and the Australian fur seal.
Fur seals have sharp eyesight and keen hearing. They have small ears, unlike the earless or hair seals.
Although they breathe air, seals are most at home in the water and may stay at sea for weeks at a time eating fish, squid, birds, and tiny shrimp-like krill. Fur seals may swim by themselves or gather in small groups.
When breeding season arrives, however, these social animals gather on shore in very large numbers. Powerful males, known as bulls, establish territories and gather harems of up to 40 females, battling their rivals to establish dominance. During this season, coastlines are filled with roaring, growling, honking seals.
Female fur seals, or cows, give birth during this breeding season, then mate again just a few days later. The following year they will return to give birth to a single pup after a nearly yearlong pregnancy, and mate once again to continue the cycle.
Many fur seal populations have not rebounded from extensive hunting, and now face additional threats from climate change and overfishing, which can limit their prey.
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