Australian Fur Seal

Arctocephalus pusillus
Image by Tim Sheerman-Chase.

The Australia fur seal is an amazing swimmer and diver, reaching in excess of 150 metres deep in search of its food.

The fur seal also has carnivorous teeth and long whiskers that it uses to find its food. The Australian fur seal’s diet consists of squids (its favourite!), octopus, crustaceans, rock lobsters, and small fish. It usually hunts schools of fish made up of pilchards or mackerel. This seal is also very talented at getting fish off of a fishing line to the surprise of the fisherman.

The Australian fur seal, arctocephalus pusillus, is the largest of all with large eyes and a pointed face. It has a broad head, pointed snout and long backward sweeping facial vibrissae (whiskers). The body is robust and covered in thick brown layered hair except on the front and back flippers.

The Australian fur seal is sexually dimorphic (males and females are visibly different). The males are larger than females and when mature carry a dark mane of coarse hair. They have a set of carnivore-like teeth similar to those of a large dog or bear. Like all members of the family otariidae (fur seals and sea lions) they can raise their body onto their front flippers to move around on land.

It is the world’s fourth-rarest seal species but was hunted to the brink of extinction last century. Population recovery has been slow and the seals are now wholly protected. The Australian fur seal is found around the coast of NSW, via Victoria, around Tasmania to South Australia.