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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 58(2)

Australian fur seals establish haulout sites and a breeding colony in South Australia

Peter D. Shaughnessy A F, Jane McKenzie B, Melanie L. Lancaster C, Simon D. Goldsworthy D, Terry E. Dennis E

A South Australian Museum, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.
B 235 Robin Road, Semaphore, SA 5019, Australia.
C School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.
D SARDI Aquatic Sciences, Henley Beach, SA 5022, Australia.
E 5 Bell Court, Encounter Bay, SA 5211, Australia.
F Corresponding author. Email: peter.shaughnessy@samuseum.sa.gov.au
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Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) breed on Bass Strait islands in Victoria and Tasmania. They have been recorded in South Australia (SA) for many years as non-breeding visitors and on Kangaroo Island frequently since 1988, mostly in breeding colonies of the New Zealand fur seal (A. forsteri) which is the most numerous pinniped in SA. Australian fur seals have displaced New Zealand fur seals from sections of the Cape Gantheaume colony on Kangaroo Island. North Casuarina Island produced 29 Australian fur seal pups in February 2008. Australian fur seal pups were larger than New Zealand fur seal pups in the same colony and have been identified genetically using a 263-bp fragment of the mitochondrial DNA control region. North Casuarina Island has been an important breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals, but pup numbers there decreased since 1992–93 (contrary to trends in SA for New Zealand fur seals), while numbers of Australian fur seals there have increased. This study confirms that Australian fur seals breed in SA. The two fur seal species compete for space onshore at several sites. Australian fur seals may compete for food with endangered Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinerea) because both are bottom feeders.

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