Adorable. That’s probably the only word that comes to mind when visitors first get a glimpse of the Galapagos fur seal. A little trickier to find that the ubiquitous Galapagos seals that openly splay themselves on the beautiful sandy beaches or sometimes even the piers and docks, the Galapagos fur seal resides a little more “off the beaten track” than their similar-looking cousins. As a result, it’s often the case that one can only witness them by heading out beyond the inhabited islands of Galapagos, ideally on one of the Santa Cruz II Galapagos cruise’s Western or Northern Islands itinerary.
The majority of Galapagos fur seal populations are found on the islands of either Isabela, Fernandina, and Santiago. Guests will often be able to pick them out along the rugged coastlines of the islands, hanging out in shady places rather than under direct sunlight. It’s during this time of the year specifically (August-November) that Galapagos fur seals are giving birth throughout the numerous little patches of the archipelago that they inhabit.
Galapagos Fur Seal Pups
Towards the end of this month female Galapagos fur seals will start to give birth to their adorable Galapagos fur seal pups, particularly as cooler temperatures and higher levels of nutrients in the water provide optimal conditions for nursing and raising their young. Fur seals in Galapagos actually demonstrate some of the longest nursing period of all fur seals, these of which can end up lasting anywhere between one and two years, or sometimes even longer than that! Talk about being pampered!
Mothers tend to their Galapagos fur seal pups tenaciously, and often times will nurse them for a whole week before they themselves heading off to feed in the ocean. Mother and pup also have exclusive calls that they use between one another and allows them to confirm their relationship. Mother Galapagos fur seals have been observed violently rejecting any orphaned seal pup that tries to approach her and/or her Galapagos fur seal pup in hopes stealing milk.
But these exceptionally longer periods of nursing are believed to be linked to periods of food scarcity, and it’s also why females seldom give birth while nursing another pup. Should the mother have a second pup while raising her first, it’s likely the second won’t survive due to starvation or siblicide, even.
Spotting Galapagos Fur Seal Pups
Their adorable looks often make the fur seal one of the most coveted species in the Galapagos when it comes to being seen. Worth noting is that there is actually a considerable difference between the Galapagos fur seal and the Galapagos sea lion in several unique aspects (both of which are part of the BIG15 group of Galapagos iconic species).
Galapagos fur seals spend an average 70% of their time on land compared to other species of seal that usually divide their time on land and water 50/50. Consider yourself lucky if you manage to spot the Galapagos fur seal while partaking in any of the aquatic activities (snorkeling, kayaking, panga ride) aboard the Santa Cruz II. Keep your eyes peeled at specific visitor sites found in the itineraries that mentioned at the beginning of this blog!