Subantartic fur seal

Arctocephalus tropicali

Watching Subantarctic fur seals jump out on the rock (landing place) at Nightingale and being surrounded by groups of them and their distinctive cries - truly something worth experiencing!

Subantarctic fur seal © Trevor Glass
Subantarctic fur seal © Trevor Glass

They occur on all four islands in the Tristan archipelago, known for being very curious animals, always observing what’s happening either on land or in the water. The seal is a warm-blooded mammal with pups suckling on their mothers for up to 11 months. However, the females leave their pups at intervals throughout the 11 months of nursing to forage for food where they can spend up to 2-3 weeks at sea. Males don’t assist with parental care, and they leave the rookery after each female has been mated and return 8 – 12 days after the female has given birth to mate again, this occurs from October through January. Male fur seals' activity pattern is highly dependent on environmental temperature, because of their thick blubber the seals are poor thermo regulators, so when temperatures become too high, they have to adjust their behaviour to cope.

IUCN Status – Least concern

Length – Up to 1.8m

Weight – Up to 158kg

Life span – 10.7 years

Reproduction –  Every 3-4 years

Sightings around Tristan islands – All year round

Marine life on Tristan

The waters surrounding the Tristan islands are home to a diverse range of fish and invertebrates, including the commercially valuable crayfish.