<< Previous Next >>


Photo Information
Copyright: Paul Kettel (pauljk) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 204 W: 64 N: 65] (226)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-09-19
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Nikon D2Xs, Nikkor 70-200mm VR, Digital RAW
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/250 seconds
Details: (Fill) Flash: Yes
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2008-02-10 21:53
Viewed: 6695
Points: 22
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
New Zealand Fur Seal


New Zealand fur seals (Arctocephalus forsteri, or kekeno) are found around New Zealand and its offshore islands, and southern Australia. Excavation of midden sites shows that when Polynesians arrived about 1300 AD, fur seals became an important source of food. By the time Europeans arrived in the late 1700s the seals had been all but wiped out, save for colonies on the South Islandís sparsely inhabited south-western coast. The pale-faced sealers finished off the remaining few and severely depleted numbers on the Chatham Islands, Bounty Islands and subantarctic islands Ė all for their pelts and the oil rendered from their blubber.

On the tiny Bounty Islands, numbers went from 52,000 in 1800 down to five by 1831. There has been considerable recovery since: 16,000 were estimated there in 1980.


Their prey is fish, cephalopods such as squid and octopus, and crustacea including krill. Most dives last one or two minutes. Fur seals will forage up to 200 kilometres beyond the continental slope, often diving as deep as 200 metres.

Breeding sites

The seals breed on steep boulder beaches with plenty of crevices and tidal pools. Their layer of fat and thick fur coats, which enable them to endure long periods in water, can cause overheating on land. Crevices provide shade, and tidal pools a place to cool off.

The dominant male mates with numerous females, so many males do not get a chance to breed in every season. They often have sites where they haul out (rest), away from the breeding colonies. These sites may become breeding colonies if females visit them.


Adult males are the first to arrive at the breeding colonies, from late October to early November. They establish territories that they defend aggressively, and remain on land, fighting but not feeding, until mid-January. This inter-male competition has promoted the evolution of large males, weighing up to 185 kilograms (an average female weighs 40 kilograms).

Females arrive from foraging at sea in late November, and give birth to a single pup (conceived the year before) by early January. About eight days later she will mate Ė usually with the dominant male. The female does all the nurturing of the newborn. She stays with the pup constantly for about 12 days, then alternates between feeding at sea and suckling. As the pup grows, the mother needs more food to make enough milk. Pups are weaned in July or August, and the pregnant females go to sea to fatten once again. The young pups then head out to sea, coming ashore at times. Females start breeding at around four years.

Delayed implantation

After fertilisation, the embryoís growth is suspended for two to four months. It then implants in the motherís uterus, and development resumes. This enables females to give birth and then mate during the same episode ashore, while still allowing for a normal gestation of about nine months. The female can therefore recover from rearing one pup before developing the next. The pupís birth is also synchronised with the femaleís return to the breeding ground the next season.

Delayed development occurs in all New Zealandís seals, and most likely in all seals. The longest known life span of a New Zealand fur seal is 15 years

Source: www.teara.govt.nz

elefantino, Jamesp, elizabeth, vanderschelden, Necipp has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.
Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
Only registered TrekNature members may write critiques.
You must be logged in to start a discussion.

Critiques [Translate]

Nice shot, really sharp and clear.
I looked at your gallery and... it's great!!


Great details and nice potrait.
Best regards,

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2008-02-10 22:47]

Hi Paul

I was in Kaikoura a few weeks ago (my third time). Great closu-up you have captured the liquid eyes very well. The detail is excellent also.



  • Great 
  • carmia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 231 W: 4 N: 144] (2240)
  • [2008-02-10 23:11]

This is lovely shot. Capture, colours, are perfect. Nice image.

Stunning! Lovely colours, beautifully sharp, strong composition and those eyes really hold your interest. You wouldn't believe something so cute could smell so bad! I was there about a month after you but unfortunately didn't spend enough time there to come away with any shots. Next time!

Hi Paul

Beautiful shot of this fur seal. Sad to think that we nearly wiped them out. Great sharpness and wonderfully composed with those big doey eyes and long whiskers. Good exposure.


Cute fellow, Paul.
Very good portrait; composition and exposure are well done.
Good work!

Very nice clarity on this wonderful pinniped, it's as though it were a window and all one has to do is reach out and pat the furry creature right on it head. Again well captured Paul. :)

Hello Paul what a beauty perfect focus nice pose and really good quality. Nice light and catchlights in the eyes. Very well composed also. tfs rgds Necip

Hello Paul
Lovely shot!Great sharpness and perfect colours.TFS.

  • Great 
  • waylim Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 296 W: 8 N: 489] (1765)
  • [2008-03-14 18:30]

Look at the eyes, the whiskers, the lips, that expression like it's about to cry. Oh, I just want to give it a hug. Excellent photo, not just because it's cute. The quality is all fine, clarity, sharpness, composition, color, light and contrast, all very well done. Congratulations, and I'm jealous.

Calibration Check