Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fur seals

Elephant seals are one of many marine mammals that live along our coast. At this time of year, fur seal pups are stranding and being rescued. The Marine Mammal Center has rescued two in recent weeks.

Northern fur seals breed at San Miguel Island off our coast, with some establishing a colony on South Farallon Island. Pups are born in July. Pups typically remain at sea, some for as long as two years, before they return to their birthplace. They'd usually be nursed until November. These seal pups will be at the center for months until they are mature enough to be released and manage on their own.
NOAA photo
 Northern fur seals are different from elephant seals in many ways. They are eared seals, rather than true seals.Their front flippers are different, the largest in the pinniped world. Their hind flippers can be a quarter of their total body length. They can rotate their hind flippers the way sea lions can. Elephant seals can't do that.

A Steller sea lion pup is also at the center for rehabilitation and return to the wild.  He was rescued in Washington state but sent  to the center for their expert care. Steller sea lions are the largest eared seals. In the California area, they have been delisted due to recovery. 
Jamie King, Alaska Dept of Fish & Game photo

Males can be up to 2,500 pounds. Like elephant seals, males are much bigger than females which weigh around 770 pounds. 

Leo, the pup sent to the Marine Mammal Centet, will also stay there for months until he is large enough and mature enough to live on his own.

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