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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 61(6)

Continued population recovery by Australian fur seals

Roger Kirkwood A F, David Pemberton B, Rosemary Gales B, Andrew J. Hoskins C, Tony Mitchell D, Peter D. Shaughnessy E, John P. Y. Arnould C

A Research Department, Phillip Island Nature Parks, PO Box 97, Cowes, Vic. 3922, Australia.
B Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, GPO Box 44, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.
C School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Vic. 3125, Australia.
D Department of Sustainability and the Environment, 171 Nicholson St, Orbost, Vic. 3888, Australia.
E South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.
F Corresponding author. Email: rkirkwood@penguins.org.au
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Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) are conspicuous, top-level predators in coastal waters of south-eastern Australia that were over-harvested during the 1800s and have had a delayed recovery. A previous species-wide estimate of live pups in 2002 recorded a near-doubling of annual pup production and a 5% annual growth rate since the 1980s. To determine if pup production increased after 2002, we estimated live pup numbers in 2007. Pups were recorded at 20 locations: 10 previously known colonies, three newly recognised colonies and seven haul-out sites where pups are occasionally born. Two colonies adjacent to the Victorian coast accounted for 51% of live pups estimated: Seal Rocks (5660 pups, 25.9%) and Lady Julia Percy Island (5574 pups, 25.5%). Although some colonies were up and some were down in pup numbers, the 2007 total of 21 882 ± 187 (s.e.) live pups did not differ significantly from a recalculated estimate of 21 545 ± 184 in 2002, suggesting little change to overall population size. However, the colonisation of three new sites between 2002 and 2007 indicates population recovery has continued.

Keywords: Arctocephalus pusillus, population status, pups born.

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