Cape Fur Seal (Arctocephalus pusillus)

Conservation Status

Least Concern (LC)

Physical Description

Large cylindrical sea mammal with a dog-like head. They have a pair of hanging ears behind the eyes, with long whiskers on the muzzle. Males are significantly larger than females and are grey to black in colour. Females are smaller with brown coats and lighter on the underside.
Weight Males 200-350kg, females 75-120kg
Size Average of 2.3 meters (males); Average of 1.8 meters (females)
Lifespan (wild) 18 years
Lifespan (captivity) 25 years


Cape fur seals are permanent (non-migratory) residents in their territories, but spend most of their time out at sea. They prefer rocky offshore islands to the mainland, which are visited through generations as pupping (birthing) areas.

Social and Reproduction

Highly gregarious, with some colonies numbering over 3000.

Mating System Polygamy (Polgyny)
Breeding interval Mating will occur usually about 6 days after a female has given birth.
Breeding season Mid October, with breeding occurring in November/December.
Gestation 368 days
Number of offspring Single calves are born, weighing between 4.5-7kg.

Habitat and Food


Cape fur seals spend most of their year offshore at sea; mostly on islands and parts of the mainland coast in Namibia to Port Elizabeth.


Fish make up 70% of the South African Fur Seals diet, with squid making 20% and crustaceans, cephalopods and sometimes even birds making up the rest.


Sharks, killer whales, jackals and brown hyenas (predating on coastal colonies), pollution, and humans.

Conservation Challenges

Pollution and prosecution by fishing vessels for ‘net raiding’ indiscriminately kills or injures thousands of cape fur seals annually.

Naankuse Solutions



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Cape Fur Seal at Naankuse sites