Cool fact…
Some king penguins travel all the way into the pack-ice zone of Antarctica to feed during winter. In a straight line that is over 1000 km from their island!

Subantarctic fur seal

Subantarctic fur seal
Subantarctic fur seal (Photo: N Gales)

Vital statistics

Scientific name: Arctocephalus tropicalis

Weight: Females 35 kg; males 88–165 kg

Length: Females 1.4 m; males 2 m

Breeding age: 4–6 years for females 8 years for males

Breeding frequency: Annual

Breeding season: November – early January

Age to weaning: 10 months

Longevity: 25 years for females, 20 years for males

Name derivation: Arctocephalus roughly translates to ‘bear-headed’, the specific name 'tropicalis' is from the Greek word tropikos, meaning tropical. This species was first identified from a specimen mistakenly thought to have come from the northern coast of Australia.

Foraging statistics

What do I eat? Myctophid fish and some squid

Range trip time: When nursing, females forage on 5-12 day trips in summer, in winter these increase to 18-28 days

Extreme dive depth/time: 208 m / 6.5 minutes

Distribution and abundance

Distribution: Breed on islands north of the Antarctic Convergence. Heard Island’s location south of this oceanographic front result in very few breeding animals are present on Heard Island. Wandering individuals, mostly young males, have been reported from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Abundance: >300,000

Population status: Population numbers are increasing in most colonies, except on subantarctic Îles Crozet.

Conservation status: The species is a listed marine species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and is protected by a number of international agreements (e.g. listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (CCAS) under the Antarctic Treaty).

The species is also covered by the Sub-antarctic Fur Seal and Southern Elephant Seal Recovery Plan and the Action Plan for Australian Seals 1999.

General comments

No subantarctic fur seal colonies are present on Heard Island. However females occasionally haul out here to pup.

More information on other Heard Island seals:

This page was last modified on 28 February 2005.