Chatham Islands: New Zealand Fur Seals at Point Manning
Point Manning is located at the northeastern top of the Chatham Island and long drive from Waitangi. Here, there is a large rookery of New Zealand fur seals on the coastal rocks. Abundant today, the New Zealand fur seals (Arctocephalus forsteri) were hunted and harvested between 1801 and 1804 and were brought to near extinction here. A short hike through beautiful coastal landscape leads to the rocks both onshore and out in the sea with dozens and dozens of fur seals of all ages scattered around. It’s a loud and smelly affair. Male fur seals are around 125kg, while females only weigh about a third of that. These are true seals, i.e. they have external ears and hind flippers (unlike the various Antarctic seals that have neither). They have two layers of fur, much darker and thicker on males. They are quite vocal and males assemble harems and then guard them against other males. Plenty of little seal pups were mixed in with females in the water and on the rocks. Some seal even climbed on top of the rocks as if they posed for pictures.