Marine Biodiversity of Southern Sydney Harbour's Journal

Journal archives for May 2024

May 10, 2024

Photo Observation of the Month of April - Sealing the Show

Congratulations to paulmc001, for his amazing Photo Observation of the Month of April of the sometimes elusive, but ultimately precocious Brown Fur Seal (Arctocephalus pusillus) having a "whale" of a time in Parsley Bay.
Brown Fur Seals, more commonly referred to as Australian Fur Seals, have been known to infrequently rest ("nap"), play, as well as haul out and feed along the waterfront of Sydney Harbour, though sometimes to the ire of small boat owners at anchor. Indeed, these are no small animal - females can weigh up to 120 kg and the big bull males can weigh up to 360 kg. Moreover, these animals feed primarily on fish (including those in the Carangidae and Monocanthidae families, as well as buckets of small bait fish), octopus, and squid, leaving a trail of guts, gore, and scales wherever they decide to set up shop and chow down. This species has been recorded as far up the Paramatta River as Birchgrove and Woolwich, noting that sightings west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge are rare on Atlas of Living Australia.
Seal numbers are on the rise, with lots of regular sightings up and down the NSW coast after almost being hunted to extinction for their meat, oil and fur. At the subspecies level (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus), it remains listed as Vulnerable under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. The closest breeding colony is on Montague Island, off Narooma, where their numbers fluctuate throughout the year based on their northward migrations. Recently, the funded Seabirds to Seascapes project, led by the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water – Biodiversity, Conservation and Science Division, partnering with experts from the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS), Taronga Conservation Society Australia and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, includes a component that aims to monitor the Australian and New Zealand fur seal populations in New South Wales. This habitat-focused initiative is timely, and has my "seal" of approval, pun intended.
This journal post was written by project leader and iNaturalist member, Dr Joseph DiBattista.
Posted on May 10, 2024 03:41 AM by joseph_dibattista joseph_dibattista | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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