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Arctocephalus tropicalis

Cape Fur Seal, Cape Cross

Arctocephalus tropicalis

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Theria
Infraclassis: Placentalia
Ordo: Carnivora
Subordo: Caniformia
Familia: Otariidae
Subfamilia: Arctocephalinae
Genus: Arctocephalus
Species: Arctocephalus tropicalis


Arctocephalus tropicalis (J. E. Gray, 1872)

Type locality: "North coast of Australia." This is in error, fixed by King (1959a) to "’Australasian sea’...to include the islands of St. Paul and Amsterdam as these are the islands nearest to Australia...".


* Arctocephalus elegans Peters, 1876


* Gray, J. E. 1872. On the Sea-Bear of New Zealand (Arctocephalus cinereus) and the North-Australian Sea-Bear (Gypsophoca tropicalis). Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1872: 653.


* Arctocephalus tropicalis on Mammal Species of the World.
* Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, 2 Volume Set edited by Don E. Wilson, DeeAnn M. Reeder
* IUCN link: Arctocephalus elegans (J. E. Gray, 1872) (Least Concern)
* Arctocephalus tropicalis (J. E. Gray, 1872) Report on ITIS

Vernacular names
English: Subantarctic Fur Seal
Português: Lobo-marinho-subantártico


The Subantarctic Fur Seal (Arctocephalus tropicalis) is a fur seal found in the southern parts of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. It was first described by Gray in 1872 from a specimen recovered in northern Australia—hence the inappropriate tropicalis specific name.


The Subantarctic Fur Seal is medium-sized compared with other fur seals. Males grow to 2 m and 160 kg whereas females are substantially smaller—1.4 m and 50 kg. Both sexes have a distinctive creamy-orange chest and face. The belly is more brownish. Males have a dark grey to black back. The female's is a lighter grey. Pups are black at birth but molt at the age of about three months. The snout is short and flat. The flippers are short and broad. Subantarctic Fur Seals live for about 20-25 years.


Subantarctic Fur Seals are widespread geographically. As their name implies they generally breed in more northerly locations than the Antarctic Fur Seals. The largest breeding colonies on Gough Island in the south Atlantic and Île Amsterdam in the southern part of the Indian Ocean. Breeding grounds are also found at Marion Island (where there is an overlap with Antarctic Fur Seals), Prince Edward Island, Crozet Islands and the Macquarie Islands. Where grounds overlap, the Subantarctic species can be identified by the orange colour on the chest.

There are about 300,000 Subantarctic Fur Seals alive today. This number is probably substantially down on when they were first discovered in 1810 as they were hunted for their pelt throughout the nineteenth century. However populations are recovering rapidly in most areas whilst under the protection of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals. A small population on Heard Island is endangered. Unlike the Antarctic Fur Seal, whose genetic variation is low due to hunting making all but one breeding colony extinct by 1900, the diversity amongst Subantarctic specimens remains high.


1. ^ Hofmeyr, G. & Kovacs, K. (2008). Arctocephalus tropicalis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 30 January 2009.


* "Arctocephalus tropicalis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=180632. Retrieved 24 January 2006.
* Randall R. Reeves, Brent S. Stewart, Phillip J. Clapham and James A. Powell (2002). National Audubon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of the World. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0375411410.

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