Melbourne Zoo is home to both Australian and New Zealand Fur Seals. Fur Seals are named for their two-layered fur: an outer layer, and an undercoat that helps their skin stay dry underwater.
Australian Fur Seals are found around the coasts of south-eastern Australia, southern New South Wales and Port Fairy.
Now protected, this species was hunted almost to extinction in earlier centuries. They’re still at risk from humans, who illegally shoot them for bait to attract sharks for tourist viewing. They are also at risk from oil spills, entanglement in nets, and plastics dumped in waterways.
Australian Fur Seal numbers are thought to be increasing, and your visit to the seals at Melbourne Zoo helps to fight their extinction.
You can also help by supporting Seal the Loop, which distributes specially designed bins around Victorian coastal areas to collect fishing waste and reduce rates of marine wildlife entanglement.
The Australian Fur Seal, along with the Cape Fur Seal, is the largest of the fur seals. They move swiftly in water, but awkwardly on land, lifting the front of their bodies and maneuvering using their flippers.
Australian Fur Seals eat fish, squid, lobster and cuttlefish. They moult, breed, and rest on land, and also chill out on structures such as beacons and oil platforms at sea. Australian Fur Seals form breeding colonies from October to December. Females usually have a single pup.
Facts about Fur Seals
- Seals moult each year.
- Pups are vulnerable to severe storms.
- Seals are preyed upon by Great White Sharks and Killer Whales.