The Galapagos Fur Seal Arctocephalus galapagoensis

A non-migratory species that lives on the island of the Galapagos and in Pacific coastal waters near there.

They became a protected species under Ecuadorian legislation in the 1930s; however, this was not enforced until 1959 when nearly all of the Galápagos Islands were made into a National Park. They are listed as Endangered (EN A2a) on the IUCN Red List due to: "...its limited distribution, fluctuating (not stable) population size, and marked decline in the last 30 years (in excess of 50%)."

Found on the rocky shores of the Galapagos Archipelago. The islands have a cool season and a warm season. The average sea temperatures are relatively high. They shelter themselves in the shade of boulders, in caves, or under lava ledges. They follow the Humboldt Current when in the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean. They move to the northern and western parts of the island when breeding. Galapagos fur seals eat fish and cephalopods, close to the shore. They hunt at night when their prey migrates closer to the surface. Foraging behavior is influenced by the lunar cycle. Foraging trips are much longer during the new moon than during the full moon.

Fun Fact: Galapagos Fur Seals are weaned by their mothers for 2-3 years.

The environmental effects of El Nino have caused disturbances in the weaning process because food sources became more scarce. Almost all of young fur seals were lost along with about 30% of adult females and non-territorial males and almost 100% of the large territorial males.

One threat to Galapagos Fur Seals are sharks

Another threat are Killer Whales

A main threat that wiped out many of this species was the fur trade that needed the seals fur. This market nearly destroyed the species.

The Galápagos Fur Seal population declined by 77-80% from 1977/78 to 2001. Since then it is thought that the population has increased but is likely still reduced by 50% over the last 24-35 years. These numbers reflect El Nino. Currently there is an estimated 10,000- 15,000 Galapagos Fur Seals living.

The Galapagos fur seal helps to maintain the population size of the seafood it eats.

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