|Guadalupe Fur Seal|
The Guadalupe fur seal was once considered extinct, after being decimated by poaching for its dense, luxurious underfur. Remarkably, the species was rediscovered in 1954 with just 14 individuals remaining and, despite a tremendous recovery, it still remains the rarest of all fur seal species
Prized for its fur, many sealers in the late 19th century drove the Guadalupe Fur Seal to extinction. But by the 1990, becuase of conservation efforts, the seals now number in 10,000s.
Guadalupe fur seals are sexually dimorphic in size, with the males being much larger than females, although few specimens have been measured. Individuals of both sexes are dark brown or dusky black, with the guard hairs on the back of the neck being yellowish or light tan. Pups are born with a black coat similar to that of adults.
Being a member of the otariid (sea lion) family, they have external ear flaps and they have long front and hind flippers that allow them to walk when on land. They are similar to northern fur seals in appearance but are slightly smaller, and the males are lighter brown. Adult male Guadalupe fur seals also have a larger head and a long, pointed muzzle. Males reach six feet (1.8 m) and 300 pounds (136 kg), while females grow to four feet (1.2 m) and 100 pounds (43 kg). By looks alone, juvenile Guadalupe fur seals are very difficult to tell apart from juvenile California sea lions and northern fur seals.
The breeding strategy of Guadalupe fur seals appears to be similar to that of northern fur seals and other types of sea lions. Males hold territories and breed with many females, and pups are born from mid-June to mid-July. Guadalupe fur seals tend to stay near shore and breed in caves on Guadalupe Island rather than on open beaches. There is evidence that they once bred on the rocky beaches of Guadalupe Island and some scientists speculate that hunting pressure pushed them back into caves for protection.
Little is known about their behavior or their diet, but they seem to eat squid and lanternfish. Guadalupe fur seals are pelagic, living almost all of the time in the open ocean.
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