Fur Seals: The Salty Sea Doggos

published on July 2, 2020

the Tasmanian coast a habitat dominated

by violence

crushing waves deadly predators and an

unforgiving rocky shoreline but one

species thrives in this craggy chaos

the fur seal

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hi I'm Daniel Defoe and you're watching

Animalia logic

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heading out to the pier now on Phillip

Island to join a boat on a little tour

to Seal Rock Tila Rock has a resident

population of Australian fur seals this

colony in particular is pretty gigantic

they're estimating the numbers at around

30,000 there are nine species of fur

seals within the arctos of Fallon a

subfamily and they're actually more

closely related to sea lions than true

seals unlike true seals fur seals have

ears and with four limbs are quite agile

on land they're found around the world

and a few of those species call the

shores of Australia home including the

Australian fur seal and the long nosed

or New Zealand fur seal

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usually located on rocky islands and

outcroppings these colonies may not look

appealing but to fur seals

it's their temptation island

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you hear it and you smell it before you

see it

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it's hard to describe the smell of a

first seal colony though I guess it

smells like what it is rotting fish and

seal poo for something that looks like a

cutesy dog oh they have one hell of an

unappealing smell spending much of their

lives at sea males come to shore to

establish these massive colonies and

they fight each other for the best

mating spots females will also fight

other females once they've made it for

access to the best areas to give birth

female fur seals will give birth to a

single pup in the summer one incredibly

cool thing that fur seals can do is that

they can control when their embryo

starts to develop through a process

called delayed implantation which means

that they can delay embryo development

they do this to ensure their pups are

born in this summer when temperatures

are warm and food is plentiful the

mothers do all the parenting and spend

their days hunting for food the pups

stay behind and play with the other pups

in the neighborhood some babies playing

over there the pups are actually born

black and in the late spring they molt

and turn a lighter brownish gray

I do that too pups plunge into the water

for the first time at six months of age

and by 11 months they're independent

though they'll still stick close to mom

for moral support

[Applause]

fur seals have two thick layers of fur

to keep them warm in cold waters unlike

many other species which only have one

the top layer repels water and the under

fur keeps their bodies toasty in the

cold waters they call home it also makes

them much better swimmers because they

become more hydrodynamic not only do

these colonies smell horrible but

they're also incredibly loud

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the whole island is a cacophony of

females yelling at their kids and males

yelling at each other each voice is

unique to the seal and identifiable by

other seals a useful skill in what can

only be described as a big old pile of

seals unlike true seals which look like

pigs in a blanket on land fur seals have

strong limbs and can top around 15

kilometres an hour

running while they are fairly adept on

land underwater is where they thrive fur

seals are purpose-built swimmers they

look fluid and can turn on a dime to

evade a predator or pursue prey they can

hold their breath for up to 15 minutes

diving up to 380 meters on a single

breath all while hunting and eating they

are one with the ocean while they do eat

squid and octopus the vast majority of

their diet is made up of fish these fish

sensing predators in the area have

formed what's called a bait ball the

fish swim together in a large ball and

since there's so many fish each fish is

banking on the predator getting full

before catching them a survival strategy

for the fish is a buffet for the fur

seals the seals dive through the bait

ball mouth wide open scooping up as much

as possible but the fur seals aren't the

only ones that have shown up to the

party

chasing the bait ball has drawn all

kinds of predators turns gannets and an

albatross attack it from above while

below the surface a school of dolphins

is converging on the bait ball it's a

sight to behold but the fur seals have

to be quick they aren't the biggest

predators on the scene anymore sharks

are the fur seals biggest predators and

a great white shark is a particularly

adept faux fur seals are much more agile

than great whites and they can

outmaneuver the Sharks with ease if need

be they'll jump out of the water to

avoid a bite and confuse their pursuers

they also use their numbers to their

advantage as the Predators are less

likely to target a group but this seal

has gotten separated from its friends

disoriented by the commotion he makes an

easy target for the great white but fur

seals aren't usually such easy meals

male Australian fur seals can measure

over two meters in length and weigh up

to 280 kilograms

they have large canines that they use to

rip and tear into their prey I also have

the cutest little ears just true seals

don't have that either while charging

through bait balls is an easy way for

them to fish they spend a lot of their

time hunting in kelp forests and they

have a familiar adaptation that helps

them thrive in these underwater mazes

their whiskers they're up to 14 times

more sensitive than incapable whiskers

they use their whiskers for following

the vibrations and currents created by

fish noting all the subtle little

changes in the water allowing them to

pinpoint the fish's location with ease

kelp forests are prime fishing territory

these giant underwater forests can grow

upwards of 40 meters from the sea floor

and are home to a diverse ecosystem

filled with a vast array of fish and

crustaceans they offer refuge from the

crushing currents of the ocean providing

many species with fertile breeding

grounds

unfortunately this important ecosystem

is disappearing around the world I don't

enjoy being the bear

but it's worth mentioning how climate

change is affecting versio it's actually

a very observable thing as sea

temperatures continue to rise kelp

forests across the globe are vanishing

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during recent marine heat waves the

waters in the Tasman Sea have been 3

degrees celcius hotter than they were

just 25 years ago help don't have root

systems and they rely on the nutrients

in the water to survive

and warm water carries less nutrients

than colder water and so during these

heat waves the kelp don't absorb enough

nutrients to survive the problem is

exacerbated by warm waters bringing

invasive species with them that quickly

take over these habitats within the last

20 years the footprint of the kelp

forests and Tasmania have decreased by

95 percent just imagine if 95 percent of

the forests in your hometown had been

cut down in the last 20 years in the

absence of the kelp forests the ocean

floor once rich with biodiversity in

these areas now resembles a wasteland

devoid of life for the first seal it

means going out farther to find food or

not returning with enough to feed their

pups and for us it's a sign of things to

come

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we love taking a close look at fur seals

and all of the amazing animals that we

cover here on Animal Logic our friends

at nature on PBS are getting even closer

to the action in their new miniseries

spy in the wild too in this sequel to

the popular spy in the wild series the

team introduces more than 50 incredibly

realistic spy cameras shaped as

hummingbirds gorillas and even turtle

eggs to allow them to record nature as

you've never seen it before

each episode explores a different region

of the world one of my favorite episodes

takes us to the cold waters of southern

Australia where a spy baby seal cam

gives us a unique perspective of seal

society nature spy on the wild tube is

streaming right now at pbsorg slash spy

in the wild with new episodes airing

Wednesday nights at 8:00 Eastern Time

7:00 central on PBS through May 20th

be sure to stream all the episodes on

the PBS video app so that you don't miss

a single species what should I talk

about next month and be sure to

subscribe for new episodes every week

thanks for watching

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you've ever seen

different servers say

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oh here we go oh my god

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they can't get enough of that

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