Seems I ended the Pinnipednesday series too early! GuanoLad pointed out in the comments of my series round-up that I had missed a pinniped, and of course I'm mortified because it's true. So have one more on me, folks! The series round-up has been edited to include this one.
The New Zealand Fur Seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) can be found on the coast of the South Island of New Zealand, the southern coast of Australia, and some very small islands in that region. It is also known as the Antipodean fur seal, the southern fur seal, and is called kekeno in Maori. They suffered from over-hunting starting from the time Europeans first landed on the islands to almost the end of the 19th century. Their population has since recovered, thanks to protective measures.
There is pronounced sexual dimorphism between adult male and female New Zealand Fur Seals. Males are larger than females, with large muscular chests and shoulders. They can grow up to just over 8 feet (2.5 meters) in length, and weigh about 330 pounds (150 kg). Females are much smaller, reaching almost 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length and weighing only 110 pounds (50 kg). Their coats are generally dark brown or dark gray in color.
Of all the fur seals, the New Zealand Fur Seal has been observed making the deepest and longest dives. Some can dive more than 1,300 feet (400 meters) and stay under for about 14 minutes. They are skilled and agile swimmers, using the porpoise technique when they want to move quickly along the surface of the water. The diet of the New Zealand Fur Seal depends on the time of year and the depth of their hunt, but it can include cephalopods, a variety of fish, and even penguins.
The breeding season of the New Zealand Fur Seal starts at the end of October, when the males travel to the breeding beaches to establish territories. They mostly do this through threat displays and harsh vocalizations, and it rarely escalates to the level of a fight. In November and December, the females will arrive to give birth to the pups conceived during the previous year. The females mate again soon after giving birth, but they continue to care for the pups, who are fully weaned after about 10 months.
The New Zealand Fur Seal is protected in New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania, but they are still the victims of by-catch in commercial fishing operations. Fishermen also see the seals as pests when they interfere with nets and other gear. They are preyed on by sharks, orcas and possibly even Leopard Seals.
Source for all images used in this post.