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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

These social animals live in large, male-dominated groups in which breeding behaviour is highly territorial. Males hold territories both on land and in the water, with females within each territory mating with the resident male. As such, males will often fight fiercely to maintain these territories (6). Breeding occurs from mid-November until the end of January, immediately after pupping, with most pups from the preceding breeding season being born from late November to early December (2). Thus, gestation takes a little under one year. Females give birth to a single pup each year, which they then nurse on land, for a period of about 8 to 12 months (7). Soon after the birth of the pup, the female will mate again, before departing to sea to feed, returning from time to time to suckle her pup. A female returning from a feeding trip comes to the beach where she left her pup, and calls for it with a characteristic call. The pup answers with its own call, which is recognised by the mother, and their identity is confirmed by smelling the pup (6). The diet includes at least five varieties of squid, and there are reports that these fur seals also feed on various fishes and lobster (2). Sharks and killer whales are known to prey on Juan Fernández fur seals (5).
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Description

Remarkably, the Juan Fernández fur seal was considered extinct until it was happily rediscovered in 1965, although it nevertheless remains rare (2). Like most fur seals, this species has an elongated, slender body and a long, pointed snout and flippers (2) (4). Adult males have a particularly long muzzle that may be slightly down-curved at the tip, and which ends in a large, bulbous, fleshy nose, creating a shark-like silhouette (2). Adult males also develop thicker and more muscular necks, surrounded by a mane of long, coarse, dark hair with silver tips, giving the mane a frosted appearance (2). The necks and fore-flippers of the males are usually scarred from fighting (5). The back and belly are dark, blackish-brown in males, while the crown down to the ears and nape to the shoulders sometimes appear silvery-grey, against a darker throat and neck. Adult females are grey-brown to dark brown above, and variably paler below, especially on the chest and underside of the neck, which can be creamy grey, and there may be areas of lighter colour on the face. Both sexes have whitish-cream whiskers (2).
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Distribution

Juan Fernandez fur seals are found today on the islands they were named for, off the coast of central Chile. It is suspected that they may also breed on the San Felix and San Ambrosio islands off northern Chile

Biogeographic Regions: neotropical ; pacific ocean

  • Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's mammals of the world. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.
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Range Description

The Juan Fernandez Fur Seal is only found ashore regularly in the Juan Fernandez Archipelago in the eastern South Pacific, west of Chile. The Archipelago includes the Juan Fernandez Island group, and the San Felix Islands, approximately 600 km to the north. Vagrant Juan Fernandez fur seals have been found on the west coast of South America from southern Peru to southern Chile.
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Range

Breeding is restricted the Juan Fernández Archipelago, and the islands of San Felix and San Ambrosio, off the coast of Chile (6), and the seal can be found in an incompletely known area of surrounding waters (2).
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Physical Description

Morphology

The body is similar to that of most fur seals, slender and elongated, with males ranging from 150 to 200 cm, and females at about 140 cm in length. Weight of males is about 140 kg, and females weigh about 50 kg. All species of Arctocephalus have similar coloration. The under fur and bases of flippers are described as rich and chestnut brown in color. Males have a thick mane of long hair that is dark with white tips, giving the mane a frosted appearance. Males have a long pointed nose which is distinctive. Females have a noticeable grey-brown to dark brown coloration on the back but are paler below, especially on the chest and underside of the neck.

Range mass: 50 to 140 kg.

Range length: 140 to 200 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently

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Ecology

Habitat

Juan Fernandez fur seals are usually found hauled out on rocks at the base of cliffs or ledges. They also have the tendency to use caves or recesses while on shore and have been seen 25 meters from a cave entrance. This habit may have saved them from hunters, as many of the caves are inaccessible to humans. Individuals are often seen active in the shallows, but adults generally forage in deep water.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; saltwater or marine

Aquatic Biomes: coastal

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Juan Fernandez Fur Seals are sexually dimorphic, with males about 1.4 times longer and approximately 3 times heavier than adult females. Adult males are estimated to be 2 m long and weigh 140 kg. Lactating females are on average 1.42 m long and weigh an average of 48.1 kg. Newborn pups are approximately 65-68 cm and 6.2-6.9 kg, and are born in a black coat.

The Juan Fernandez Fur Seal is a polygynous species. The breeding season lasts from mid-November to the end of January, and the colonies are essentially vacated by early September (based on the observations of sealers from the late 18th century), and no later than mid-October.

Males defend territories on land that are typically around 36 m² in size and that include an average of four females, but sometimes males hold territories in the water that are much larger. Most adult females give birth within a few days of arriving at the rookery. Mean time from birth to departure on the first foraging trip, post mating, is 11.3 days. Although females can be gone for as little as 1 day, the mean is 12.3 days per foraging trip and the longest trip recorded lasted 25 days. Mean length of pup attendance between foraging trips is 5.3 days with a range of 0.3–15.8 days. Based on the onset of pupping and the observations of vacant colonies in early September, it has been suggested that pups are weaned in 7-10 months. This species prefers to haulout and breed on rocky shorelines with boulders, grottos, overhangs, and caves.

Juan Fernandez Fur Seal females travel long distances to find adequate quantities of prey and, on average, have the longest lasting foraging trips of any otariid. Based on geolocating time-depth recorders, the mean distance travelled away from the breeding colony is 653 km, and all tagged females travelled at least 550 km to forage. Most trips were southwest and west of the Juan Fernandez Islands, far offshore to deep oceanic areas. Despite this, the mean depth of dive is only 12.3 m and the mean duration of dives is 51 seconds; these values are shallow and short even for an otariid and clearly indicate surface feeding. The deepest dives are made to 90–100 m and the longest dives recorded are just over 6 minutes. Nearly all foraging-type dives occur at night.

Juan Fernandez Fur Seals feed extensively on vertically-migrating prey at night. Their diet is one of the least diverse of any otariid, and along with the long foraging trips made by lactating females reflects the low productivity of their oceanic feeding areas. Foraging varies between years and probably reflects abundance and availability of prey. Myctophids are the most important fishes in the diet and onychoteuthid squid are the most important cephalopods.

At sea, these fur seals can be quite animated as they groom at the surface. They also rest at the surface, assuming a number of postures including: head down with hind flippers elevated and swaying in the air, as is typical of many southern fur seals; asleep at the surface with both hind flippers tucked under a fore flipper in a "jug-handle" position; and with both fore flippers or all 4 flippers held in the air.

Little is known about predators of Juan Fernandez Fur Seals but blue and Great White Sharks are suspected predators, as are Killer Whales, and possibly the Leopard Seals that infrequently visit the islands.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 5 specimens in 2 taxa.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 5 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0
  Temperature range (°C): 13.108 - 16.503
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.212 - 1.629
  Salinity (PPS): 32.817 - 33.451
  Oxygen (ml/l): 5.646 - 6.141
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.364 - 0.626
  Silicate (umol/l): 2.206 - 4.946

Graphical representation

Temperature range (°C): 13.108 - 16.503

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.212 - 1.629

Salinity (PPS): 32.817 - 33.451

Oxygen (ml/l): 5.646 - 6.141

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.364 - 0.626

Silicate (umol/l): 2.206 - 4.946
 
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When ashore, these fur seals are usually found on rocky and volcanic shorelines with boulders, cliffs, overhangs, and caves (2).
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Trophic Strategy

Juan Fernandez Fur Seals are reported to feed on cephalopods, such as squid, and on fish.

Animal Foods: fish; mollusks

Primary Diet: carnivore (Piscivore , Eats non-insect arthropods)

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Associations

Although no exact interactions are known it can be assumed that A. philippii would effect the populations of their aquatic prey, and that any stillbirths would help local waterfowl.

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Sharks and killer whales are known to attack other species of this genus although no specific information was available for A. philippii. They are fast and maneuverable swimmers and can seek refuge on land from these aquatic predators.

Known Predators:

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Known predators

Arctocephalus philippii is prey of:
Chondrichthyes
Orcinus orca

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Known prey organisms

Arctocephalus philippii preys on:
non-insect arthropods
Actinopterygii
Mollusca

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

A. philippii are very vocal with calls ranging from a bark, usually when an animal moves or is playing, to a high-pitched scream often aimed at the approach of an intruder. Individuals may use a guttural cough if threatened. Females with pups will make a prolonged bawl. The communication is seemingly complex. Communication also occurs through visual and tactile cues and perhaps chemical cues, such as pheromones.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

The longevity of A. philippii is unknown but may be similar to A. gazella, in which expected life span is 13 years for males, with females typically living about 23 years.

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Reproduction

The breeding behavior is very territorial, with males holding aquatic and land territories. Males will often fight to maintain these territories. Females within each territory mate with the resident male. A. philippii are polygynous in their mating system.

Mating System: polygynous

Breeding in most fur seal and sea lion species occurs just after a female has given birth to a single pup from the preceding breeding season. In Juan Fernandez sea lions the peak pupping season is in late November and early December. Breeding occurs from November to January. Gestation is sligthtly less than one year.

Breeding interval: Juan Fernandez Fur Seals breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Mating occurs from November to December.

Average number of offspring: 1.

Average gestation period: 12 months.

Range weaning age: 7 to 10 months.

Range time to independence: 7 to 10 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Females give birth to a single pup and nurse on land. After a long initial post-natal suckling bout (averaging 11.3 days in length), females of A. philippii undergo long foraging trips (averaging 12.2 days in length), and this leads to some of the longest recorded intersuckling intervals for a mammal. Fat and energy content of milk is the highest of any member of the family Otariidae examined, allowing young to grow rapidly despite long periods of fasting.

Parental Investment: precocial ; female parental care

  • Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's mammals of the world. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.
  • Ochoa-Acuna, H., J. Francis, O. Oftedal. 1999. Influence of long intersuckling interval on composition of milk in the Juan Fernandez fur seal, A. philippii. Journal of Mammalogy, 80: 758-767.
  • Francis, J., D. Boness. 1991. The effect of thermoregulatory behavior on mating of A. philippii. Behaviour, 119: 104-126.
  • International Marine Mammal Association. 1999. "Juan Fernandez Fur Seal" (On-line ). Accessed December 9, 2002 at http://www.imma.org/pinnipeds/juanfernandezfs.htm.
  • Seal Conservation Society , 2001. "Juan Fernandez Fur Seal" (On-line ). Pinniped Species Information Pages. Accessed March 30, 2003 at http://www.pinnipeds.org/species/juanfur.htm.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

During the late 17th century, A. philippii were abundant, with the population estimated as high as 4 million. After one century of heavy exploitation, they were believed to be extinct until 1965, when they were observed on Alejandro Selkirk Island. Since 1965 the population has increased dramatically, with the current population estimated at more than 12,000. Species of Arctocephalus are on Appendix 2 of CITES, and the IUCN classifies A. philippii as vulnerable.

CITES: appendix ii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Aurioles, D. & Trillmich, F. (IUCN SSC Pinniped Specialist Group)

Reviewer/s
Kovacs, K. & Lowry, L. (Pinniped Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
The Juan Fernandez Fur Seal has a relatively small, but apparently increasing population size. Because of its limited range, it should at present be listed as Near Threatened, as it is close to qualifying for Vulnerable.

IUCN Evaluation of the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal, Arctocephalus philippii
Prepared by Pinniped Specialist Group


A. Population reduction Declines measured over the longer of 10 years or 3 generations
A1 CR > 90%; EN > 70%; VU > 50%
Al. Population reduction observed, estimated, inferred, or suspected in the past where the causes of the reduction are clearly reversible AND understood AND have ceased, based on and specifying any of the following:
(a) direct observation
(b) an index of abundance appropriate to the taxon
(c) a decline in area of occupancy (AOO), extent of occurrence (EOO) and/or habitat quality
(d) actual or potential levels of exploitation
(e) effects of introduced taxa, hybridization, pathogens, pollutants, competitors or parasites.

Drastic population reduction occurred during the 18th and 19th centuries, bringing this species to the brink of extinction. But, in the last 10 years the population appears to be increasing. The rapid population reduction took place more than three generations (30 years) ago.

A2, A3 & A4 CR > 80%; EN > 50%; VU > 30%
A2. Population reduction observed, estimated, inferred, or suspected in the past where the causes of reduction may not have ceased OR may not be understood OR may not be reversible, based on (a) to (e) under A1.

The population is now thought to number in excess of 12,000 animals. The trend is increasing.

A3. Population reduction projected or suspected to be met in the future (up to a maximum of 100 years) based on (b) to (e) under A1.

A4. An observed, estimated, inferred, projected or suspected population reduction (up to a maximum of 100 years) where the time period must include both the past and the future, and where the causes of reduction may not have ceased OR may not be understood OR may not be reversible, based on (a) to (e) under A1.

No population reduction is inferred for the coming years if conditions remain similar and protection continues.

B. Geographic range in the form of either B1 (extent of occurrence) AND/OR B2 (area of occupancy)
B1. Extent of occurrence (EOO): CR < 100 km²; EN < 5,000 km²; VU < 20,000 km²

The EOO of the Jan Fernandez Fur Seal is < 20,000 km².

B2. Area of occupancy (AOO): CR < 10 km²; EN < 500 km²; VU < 2,000 km²

The AOO of the Jan Fernandez Fur Seal is expanding, but is still less than < 2,000 km².

AND at least 2 of the following:
(a) Severely fragmented, OR number of locations: CR = 1; EN < 5; VU < 10
(b) Continuing decline in any of: (i) extent of occurrence; (ii) area of occupancy; (iii) area, extent and/or quality of habitat; (iv) number of locations or subpopulations; (v) number of mature individuals.
(c) Extreme fluctuations in any of: (i) extent of occurrence; (ii) area of occupancy; (iii) number of locations or subpopulations; (iv) number of mature individuals.

C. Small population size and decline
Number of mature individuals: CR < 250; EN < 2,500; VU < 10,000

The global population of Juan Fernandez Fur Seal has now recovered beyond 10,000 animals.

AND either C1 or C2:
C1. An estimated continuing decline of at least: CR = 25% in 3 years or 1 generation; EN = 20% in 5 years or 2 generations; VU = 10% in 10 years or 3 generations (up to a max. of 100 years in future)
C2. A continuing decline AND (a) and/or (b):
(a i) Number of mature individuals in each subpopulation: CR < 50; EN < 250; VU < 1,000
or
(a ii) % individuals in one subpopulation: CR = 90–100%; EN = 95–100%; VU = 100%
(b) Extreme fluctuations in the number of mature individuals.

D. Very small or restricted population
Number of mature individuals: CR < 50; EN < 250; VU < 1,000 AND/OR restricted area of occupancy typically: AOO < 20 km² or number of locations < 5, such that it is prone to the effects of human activities or stochastic events within a very short time period in an uncertain future, it is thus capable of becoming Critically Endangered or even Extinct in a very short time period

The number of mature individuals is >1,000. It is restricted to a single location during the breeding season, but there are no immediately obvious threats that seem likely to drive it to Critically Endangered or even Extinct in a very short time period.

E. Quantitative Analysis
Indicating the probability of extinction in the wild to be: Indicating the probability of extinction in the wild to be: CR > 50% in 10 years or 3 generations (100 years max.); EN > 20% in 20 years or 5 generations (100 years max.); VU > 10% in 100 years

No quantitative analysis of the probability of extinction is available for the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal.

Listing recommendationThe range of the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal was dramatically reduced when it was hunted to near extinction. The reduction of this species took place more than three generations (30 years) ago, and its population is now increasing. It is restricted to a single location during the breeding season, but there are no immediately obvious threats that seem likely to drive it to Critically Endangered or even Extinct in a very short time period; it is, however, close to meeting criterion D2 for Vulnerable, and so it is listed as Near Threatened.

History
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
  • 1994
    Vulnerable
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
  • 1982
    Vulnerable
    (Thornback and Jenkins 1982)
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Status

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
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Population

Population
This species was hunted alomost to extinction, but was rediscovered in the mid twentieth century. Since that time, numbers have increased. Following the 1990-91 breeding season the total population was estimated to number 12,000 animals; it appears still to be increasing.

Population Trend
Increasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Juan Fernandez Fur Seals were hunted to the brink of extinction by commercial sealers trading pelts in China. Intensive sealing began in the late 18th century and ended in the late 19th century, when few could be found. It is likely that several million Juan Fernandez Fur Seals were killed during this period. Small numbers were seen in the early 20th century, but the species was thought to have gone extinct shortly thereafter. The species was rediscovered in the middle of the 20th century and has since been making a slow comeback.

The limited size of the population and the fact that the species passed through a genetic bottleneck makes this species vulnerable to catastrophic events and stress from disease outbreaks, oil spills, environmental regime shift, disturbance, and fisheries conflicts. No fisheries conflicts have been identified to date. Individual seals have been seen with plastic bands around their necks since 1982, but the level of mortality from these entanglements is unknown.

The effects of global climate change on this species are uncertain; however, any negative disruption of the ecosystem of this species, that already undertakes some of the longest foraging trips during the pup dependency period, would likely be a threat.
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Once abundant, this fur seal was heavily exploited by commercial sealers from the 17th to the 19th centuries for its pelt, blubber, meat and oil, and by the beginning of the 20th century it was believed to be extinct (5). When the species was rediscovered in 1966, just 200 individuals survived (2), but the population has since steadily increased (8). However, despite being protected by the Chilean government, the Juan Fernandez fur seal is sometimes poached illegally for lobster bait, fur and meat (4) (5). Occasional reports also exist of the seal becoming entangled in fishing nets and plastic waste (5). There is an additional concern that the seal may have to compete with fisheries for its food, and due to its limited size, the population is vulnerable and may suffer from a lack of genetic diversity (4) (5).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Poaching has been prohibited since 1965 (Aguayo 1979). The status of total protection was given to all Arctocephalus species in Chile in 1978 (Torres 1987b, Reijnders et al 1993). Listed on CITES Appendix II.
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Conservation

After rediscovery, the species was given total protection by national Chilean legislation in 1978 (5). This measure appears to have been successful as, since then, there has been an annual population increase of 16 to 17 percent, in spite of occasional illegal hunting (4).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

There are no known adverse affects of Arctocephalus philippii on humans although the possibility of competition with commercial fisheries has been noted in conjunction with conservation efforts.

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Juan Fernandez fur seals were used heavily by sealers in the late 1700s and early 1800s as a source of pelts, blubber, meat, and oil. Unfortunately this hunting lead to precipitous population declines and near extinction.

Positive Impacts: body parts are source of valuable material; research and education

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Wikipedia

Juan Fernández fur seal

The Juan Fernández fur seal (Arctocephalus philippii) breeds on the Juan Fernández Islands off the coast of Chile. It is the second-smallest of the otariid seal (the closely related Galápagos fur seal is smaller still). Discovered by navigator Juan Fernández in the 16th century, the seals became a target for sealers in the Maritime Fur Trade era. They were thought extinct in the mid-20th century until a population of 200 was found. The population was protected and has grown quickly. There are now believed to be at least 10,000 animals on and around the island.

Description[edit source | edit]

The seals have a relatively robust body and a long, slender and pointed snout. They have stubby foreflippers and hindflippers, and a mane of long, coarse guard hairs from the top of the head to the shoulders. Adult males are dark brown to black, but the guard hairs can have yellow or tan tips. The males also have a more bulbous nose than the females and juveniles, as well as being longer than the adult females. The adult females have an overall brown colour, but the tips of the guard hairs may fade to yellow or tan. The females are less robust at the chest, neck and shoulders than the adult males. Pups are born black, but become lighter during the first few years.

References[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ Aurioles, D. & Trillmich, F. (2008). Arctocephalus philippii. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
  • Randall R. Reeves, Brent S. Stewart, Phillip J. Clapham and James A. Powell (2002). National Audubon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of the World. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0375411410. 
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