Gough Island: Subantarctic Fur Seals

Gough Island is home to the world’s largest colonies of the Subantarctic Fur Seals (Arctocephalus tropicalis) – around 63% of the total global population. As we zodiac cruises along the shorelines of the island, there are hundreds of seals all around – on the rocks, on the narrow pebble beach, further up the rocky slopes of the cliffs, and all around us in the water (the water was almost boiling with fur seals). Subantarctic fur seals have a dark brown or grayish-brown fur, and adult males are larger than females. These seals are known for their territorial behavior, with males defending breeding territories and harems of females during the breeding season. Males use vocalizations, posturing, and physical combat to establish dominance. Females give birth to a single pup and nurse them for several months. Seals on Gough Island are known to undertake long-distance migrations. After the breeding season, they leave the island and disperse across the Southern Ocean, traveling thousands of kilometers in search of food.