Underwater view of a seal swimming towards the camera.

Long-nosed Fur Seal

Melbourne Zoo is home to both Australian and Long-nosed Fur Seals. Fur Seals are named for their two-layered fur: an outer layer, and an undercoat that helps their skin stay dry underwater.

Long-nosed and Australian Fur Seals are found around the coasts of south-eastern Australia, southern New South Wales and New Zealand. 

Now protected, this species was hunted almost to extinction for the fur trade in earlier centuries. They are at risk from bycatch (the incidental capture of non-target species by fishermen), climate change, entanglement in nets, plastics dumped in waterways and oil spills.

Fur Seals are an iconic top order predator in Victoria’s unique marine ecosystem and your visit to the seals at Melbourne Zoo helps to fight their extinction.

You can also help by blowing bubbles, not balloons and supporting Seal the Loop, which distributes specially designed bins around Victorian coastal areas to collect fishing waste and reduce rates of marine wildlife entanglement.

Seals move swiftly and gracefully through the water using their powerful fore flipper and can be quite agile on land, walking on all four of their flippers.

If you’re lucky enough to a seal resting on land, keep at least 30m away and dogs 50m away. It is illegal to feed or touch seal and this could result in injury to you or the seal.

If you are concerned about a wild seal's health or wellbeing contact Melbourne Zoo's Marine Response Unit on 1300 245 MRU (1300 245 678) 

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 mid-November to mid-January. Females usually give birth to a single pup nine established breeding colonies in Victoria, including Seal Rocks, Deen Maar (Lady Julia Percy), The Skerries and Kanowna Isand.

Facts about Fur Seals

  • Seals can often be seen floating in the water with their flipper(s) in the air. This behaviour is called 'sailing' or 'jug handling' and helps to regulate their body temperature.
  • Seals moult each year.
  • Pups are vulnerable to severe storms.
  • Seals are preyed upon by Great White Sharks and Killer Whales.
  • Fur seals are also known as eared seals due to their visible ears, this groups includes fur seal and sea lion.

See our daily seal keeper talk at 11.30am.

Population Trend:
Increasing
Number left in the wild:
60,000

Conservation Status

  • LC
    Least Concern
  • NT
    Near Threatened
  • VU
    Vulnerable
  • EN
    Endangered
  • CR
    Critically Endangered
  • EW
    Extinct in the Wild
  • EX
    Extinct