A. townsendi is one of the rarest species of seal.
Its area of destribution ranges from the Channel Islands in California
to Cedros Island, in Baja California, Mexico. The only breeding area
today is on Guadalupe Island, 290 km west of Baja California. The
Guadalupe fur seal is the only species of Arctocephalus found in the
Northern Hemisphere. Certain individuals have been sighted as far
south as Puerto Gurrero, near the Mexico /Guatemala border, as far
north as the Point Reyes National Seashore in California, and possibly
in the Gulf of California. It is possible that the true range of the
species is underestimated due to the rarity of sightings.
Physical characteristics: The color
of the body of Guadalupe fur seals is brownish gray dorsally, with
a silvery and yellowish-gray "mane" on the nape of the neck.
Males reach up to 120 to 130 kg and 2 meters length. Females are smaller
and lighter - around 50 kg and 1.5 m.
Food habits: This seal species eats
a variety of fish and marine invertebrates like squid. Their foraging
tecnique involves swimming out to sea and diving for their prey.
Reproduction: As other species of
seal, Guadalupe fur seals are territorial and polygynous. One male
usually defends a territory of a harem of around 6 females for 35
to 120 days. Breedign season is restricted to June and July. Gestation
lasts around 12 months. Usually just one pup is born after 12 months
of gestation. Lactation lasts 9 to 11 months. Female is ready to mate
within one or two weeks after giving birth to a pup conceived the
previous year (post-partum estrus).
Guadalupe fur seals are not migratory, but a male and his females
can occasionally diperse to new areas.
Habitat: Rocky coasts and caves found along these shores.
Conservation: The Guadalupe
fur seal was nearly extinct by the 1880's, with the known population
of only 7 individuals in 1892. Declaration of the Guadalupe Island
a seal sanctuary by the Mexican government in 1975 and placing the
species on the "threatened" list in the US 1967, helped
increase the population by 1984 to about 1,600 animals and a population
growth rate of 11.5% per year has been recorded.