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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals

  Carnivora · Otariidae · Arctocephalus townsendi

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Arctocephalus townsendi

Guadalupe Fur Seal

Order: Carnivora
Family: Otariidae

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Conservation Status: Near Threatened.

The history of the Guadalupe fur seal during the past century is well documented. The seals were nearly extinguished by hunters seeking their dense, luxurious underfur in the 1800s. In the 1890s, the United States sent a scientist to Isla de Guadalupe, Mexico, to assess the situation. Only seven live seals were counted. About 60 were seen in 1926, most of which were soon killed by fisherman, and 14 animals were located in 1954. In 1975, the island off Baja California was declared a sanctuary by the Mexican government, giving the seals protection and producing a dramatic upswing in numbers— to 3,259 in 1987 and 7,348 in the early 1990s. As with all fur seals, males are larger than females, and the animals can move on land using all four flippers. They use their front flippers to swim, and feed mostly on fish and small marine invertebrates such as squid.

Also known as:

Oso Marino de Guadalupe, Foca Fina

Sexual Dimorphism:

Males are much larger than females.


Average: 2.2 m males; 1.5 m females
Range: 1.9-2.4 m males; 1.4-1.9 m females


Average: 190 kg males; 50 kg females
Range: 150-22- kg males; 40-55 kg females


Merriam, C.H., 1897.  Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 11:175.


Mammal Species of the World (opens in a new window).

Distribution of Arctocephalus townsendi

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