South African fur seal

Sea bear illustration
  • Relatives: otariids (eared seals)
  • Habitat: sandy and rocky coastal strips
  • Diet: fish
  • Life expectancy: 30 years
  • Gestation period: almost 1 year
Sea bear natural habitat

Fur seals are sociable and live together in larger colonies on sandy and rocky shores as well as the rocky islands of South Africa. While the males can be over 2 metres in height and have a weight over 300 kilograms with a good supply of food, the females are much smaller and lighter, with a height of about 1.80 metres and a weight of up to 100 kilograms. Fur seals reach speeds of up to 14 km/h in the water. But with their forelegs and hind legs adjustable under the body and the very flexible spine they can also move very deftly and swiftly on land, and are able to climb, jump and gallop. They reach depths of up to 45 metres when diving.

Almost one year pregnant
During the approximately three-month mating season the male fur seals behave very territorial and lead harems with up to 50 females. In doing so, they must repeatedly defend their territory against rivals, which is why they do not go into water and eat any food during the mating season. The pups of South African fur seals are born in November/December. The females are mated again only 6 days after the birth. About 9 further months of pregnancy follow a three-month embryonic dormancy. The offspring is breastfed for about one year. Fish are the main diet of adult animals. They are able to locate their prey when hunting with the aid of their whiskers, the so-called vibrissae.

You can experience these and many other animals at Rostock Zoo, home to 4,500 animals in 450 different species from all over the world.