Northern Fur Seal | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Northern Fur Seal | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Northern Fur Seal Overview


The Northern fur seal is a marine mammal with a sleek and robust body covered in dense fur. Adult males, called bulls, have distinctive dark brown or black fur with a light-colored mane of guard hairs around their neck and shoulders.

They are large and muscular, reaching lengths of up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) and weighing up to 270 kilograms (600 pounds). Adult females, or cows, have lighter, silvery-gray fur and are smaller in size. Both sexes have large, dark eyes and long front flippers adapted for swimming.

Origins And Evolution

Northern fur seals, scientifically known as Callorhinus ursinus, are marine mammals with an evolutionary history tracing back millions of years. They are a part of the pinniped family, which includes seals, sea lions, and walruses.

These seals are believed to have originated in the North Pacific Ocean, particularly in the northern regions. Over time, they have adapted to their semi-aquatic lifestyle, evolving features such as sleek fur for insulation, webbed flippers for efficient swimming, and acute senses for hunting prey underwater.

Historically, they have been prized for their fur, leading to extensive hunting that significantly impacted their populations. Today, they are primarily found in the North Pacific, where conservation efforts aim to protect their dwindling numbers.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Northern fur seals are highly social and gregarious animals, often forming large colonies during breeding seasons. They are exceptional swimmers, spending much of their lives in the ocean, where they can travel long distances in search of food.

These seals are opportunistic predators, primarily feeding on fish and squid. Breeding colonies are established on rocky shorelines or islands, where males compete for territories and females give birth and nurse their young. Northern fur seals exhibit strong maternal bonds, with mothers returning to the same breeding grounds each year to reunite with their pups.

Northern Fur Seal Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Otariidae
  • Genus: Callorhinus
  • Species: Ursinus

Northern Fur Seal Locations

  • Bering Sea
  • North Pacific Ocean
  • Pribilof Islands
  • Commander Islands
  • California Coast
  • Gulf of Alaska
  • Kuril Islands
  • Hokkaido, Japan
  • Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia
  • Farallon Islands, California

Fast Facts

  • Name: Fur Seal
  • Scientific Name: Callorhinus ursinus
  • Habitat: Northern Pacific
  • Diet: Fish and Squid
  • Physical Features: Thick Fur
  • Nocturnal: Diurnal Diver
  • Solitary: Social Swimmer
  • Unique Order: Pinnipeds Order
  • Lifespan: 20-25 Years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Fun Facts: Agile Swimmers

Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Brown Fur
  • Skin Type: Blubber Layer
  • Top Speed: Swift Swimmer
  • Lifespan: 20-25 Years
  • Weight: Medium-sized Pinniped
  • Length: Moderately Sized
  • Age of Sexual Maturity: 3-5 Years
  • Age of Weaning: 4 Months


Where are Northern fur seals primarily found?

Northern fur seals are primarily found in the North Pacific Ocean, particularly in regions such as the Bering Sea, the Pribilof Islands, and the California coast.

What distinguishes male and female Northern fur seals in terms of appearance?

Adult males, known as bulls, have dark brown or black fur with a light-colored mane around their neck and shoulders. Adult females, called cows, have silvery-gray fur.

Are Northern fur seals known for their swimming abilities?

Yes, Northern fur seals are excellent swimmers and can reach speeds of up to 24 miles per hour (39 km/h).

How long can Northern fur seals live in the wild?

In the wild, Northern fur seals can live up to 25 to 30 years.

What is the primary diet of Northern fur seals?

They are primarily carnivorous, feeding on fish and squid.

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