Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

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 and Terry E. Dennis E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

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

Australian Journal of Zoology 58(2) 94-103 https://doi.org/10.1071/ZO10017
Submitted: 3 March 2010  Accepted: 16 April 2010   Published: 20 May 2010

Abstract

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.


Acknowledgements

We thank Bob Warneke of Yolla, Tasmania, and George Steele of Taronga Zoo, Sydney, for assistance with the initial identification of Australian fur seals on Kangaroo Island. Dr Catherine Kemper and David Stemmer of the South Australian Museum are thanked for information on the locality of records of Australian fur seals in SA. For assistance with counts of Australian fur seals we thank Dr Rebecca McIntosh (La Trobe University), Adam McKeown (CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems) and Alison Buck and Derek Snowball (SA Department for Environment and Heritage). We thank Mark Armstrong of the South Australian Museum for results of the isozyme analysis and Dr R. Kirkwood of Phillip Island Nature Park for permission to use his observation of a pup. For helpful comments on earlier drafts, we thank Dr Sue Briggs of NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, Dr Catherine Kemper and two referees.


The work on Kangaroo Island and North Casuarina Island was supported by the South Australian Government’s Wildlife Conservation Fund, and the Department for Environment and Heritage on Kangaroo Island. It was conducted under animal ethics approval from the Wildlife Ethics Committee of the SA Department for Environment and Heritage (No. 31/2006-M1). Permission to conduct the project and to work in Cape Gantheaume Wilderness Area and Flinders Chase National Park was granted by the SA Department for Environment and Heritage (No. M23626-13).


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