Galapagos wildlife

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Galapagos Islands fur seals


Fur seals eat fish and squid, leaving the colony at night to hunt. Fritz Trillmich has spent several years studying the behaviour of these animals and has discovered that they have a lunar periodicity to their hunting trips. This may be because they are more visible to sharks when the moon is bright and also because their prey tends to move deeper during full moons.

Galapagos fur seal

Shark attacks on animals of all ages are a regular phenomenon.

Pups are born with a dark pelage but may have lighter areas on the face and belly. Pupping peaks in late September through early October but does occur from mid-August to mid-November. Pups are born weighing between 3 and 4.5 kg and are weaned when they are 1 to 3 years old. Breeding is affected by the high temperatures and while females hide among boulders or in caves, males ensure that territories have access to the water in order for them to cool off.

Galapagos fur seal

Because the breeding season is long, males cannot maintain territories throughout the full season. Instead, they leave but may return later in the breeding season. The diet consists mainly of mycotophids, bathylagids and small cephalopods.

There is no evidence to support seasonal dispersal or migration.The population of Galapagos fur seals was estimated to be about 40,000 in the late 1970s. The Galapagos fur seal is classed as Vulnerable by the 2000 IUCN Red List. Numbers were drastically depleted by hunting during the 19th Century, and the effects of El Niño (decline in fish stocks) have also led to a decrease in numbers.

Galapagos Islands aquatic mammals, dolphins and whales
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