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Arctocephalus philippii

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CARNIVORA OTARIIDAE

Scientific Name: Arctocephalus philippii
Species Authority: (Peters, 1872)
Common Name/s:
English Juan Fernández Fur Seal
French Arctocéphale De Juan Fernandez
Spanish Oso Marino De Chile
Taxonomic Notes: This taxon was formerly referred to as A. philippii philippii, as the taxon now called A. townsendi was known as A. philippi townsendi, in past species reviews (Repenning et al. 1971). Brunner (2003) suggested that this species should be placed in another genus Arctophoca, but considered philippii and townsendi subspecies, whereas Higdon et al. (2007) from genetic evidence was convinced that these are separate ("good") species, regardless of the generic name, as they split about 0.3 MY ago.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor/s: Aurioles, D. & Trillmich, F. (IUCN SSC Pinniped Specialist Group)
Reviewer/s: Kovacs, K. & Lowry, L. (Pinniped Red List Authority)
Justification:
The Juan Fernandez Fur Seal has a relatively small, but apparently increasing population size. Because of its limited range, it should at present be listed as Near Threatened, as it is close to qualifying for Vulnerable.

IUCN Evaluation of the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal, Arctocephalus philippii
Prepared by Pinniped Specialist Group


A. Population reduction Declines measured over the longer of 10 years or 3 generations
A1 CR > 90%; EN > 70%; VU > 50%
Al. Population reduction observed, estimated, inferred, or suspected in the past where the causes of the reduction are clearly reversible AND understood AND have ceased, based on and specifying any of the following:
(a) direct observation
(b) an index of abundance appropriate to the taxon
(c) a decline in area of occupancy (AOO), extent of occurrence (EOO) and/or habitat quality
(d) actual or potential levels of exploitation
(e) effects of introduced taxa, hybridization, pathogens, pollutants, competitors or parasites.

Drastic population reduction occurred during the 18th and 19th centuries, bringing this species to the brink of extinction. But, in the last 10 years the population appears to be increasing. The rapid population reduction took place more than three generations (30 years) ago.

A2, A3 & A4 CR > 80%; EN > 50%; VU > 30%
A2. Population reduction observed, estimated, inferred, or suspected in the past where the causes of reduction may not have ceased OR may not be understood OR may not be reversible, based on (a) to (e) under A1.

The population is now thought to number in excess of 12,000 animals. The trend is increasing.

A3. Population reduction projected or suspected to be met in the future (up to a maximum of 100 years) based on (b) to (e) under A1.

A4. An observed, estimated, inferred, projected or suspected population reduction (up to a maximum of 100 years) where the time period must include both the past and the future, and where the causes of reduction may not have ceased OR may not be understood OR may not be reversible, based on (a) to (e) under A1.

No population reduction is inferred for the coming years if conditions remain similar and protection continues.

B. Geographic range in the form of either B1 (extent of occurrence) AND/OR B2 (area of occupancy)
B1. Extent of occurrence (EOO): CR < 100 km²; EN < 5,000 km²; VU < 20,000 km²

The EOO of the Jan Fernandez Fur Seal is < 20,000 km².

B2. Area of occupancy (AOO): CR < 10 km²; EN < 500 km²; VU < 2,000 km²

The AOO of the Jan Fernandez Fur Seal is expanding, but is still less than < 2,000 km².

AND at least 2 of the following:
(a) Severely fragmented, OR number of locations: CR = 1; EN < 5; VU < 10
(b) Continuing decline in any of: (i) extent of occurrence; (ii) area of occupancy; (iii) area, extent and/or quality of habitat; (iv) number of locations or subpopulations; (v) number of mature individuals.
(c) Extreme fluctuations in any of: (i) extent of occurrence; (ii) area of occupancy; (iii) number of locations or subpopulations; (iv) number of mature individuals.

C. Small population size and decline
Number of mature individuals: CR < 250; EN < 2,500; VU < 10,000

The global population of Juan Fernandez Fur Seal has now recovered beyond 10,000 animals.

AND either C1 or C2:
C1. An estimated continuing decline of at least: CR = 25% in 3 years or 1 generation; EN = 20% in 5 years or 2 generations; VU = 10% in 10 years or 3 generations (up to a max. of 100 years in future)
C2. A continuing decline AND (a) and/or (b):
(a i) Number of mature individuals in each subpopulation: CR < 50; EN < 250; VU < 1,000
or
(a ii) % individuals in one subpopulation: CR = 90–100%; EN = 95–100%; VU = 100%
(b) Extreme fluctuations in the number of mature individuals.

D. Very small or restricted population
Number of mature individuals: CR < 50; EN < 250; VU < 1,000 AND/OR restricted area of occupancy typically: AOO < 20 km² or number of locations < 5, such that it is prone to the effects of human activities or stochastic events within a very short time period in an uncertain future, it is thus capable of becoming Critically Endangered or even Extinct in a very short time period

The number of mature individuals is >1,000. It is restricted to a single location during the breeding season, but there are no immediately obvious threats that seem likely to drive it to Critically Endangered or even Extinct in a very short time period.

E. Quantitative Analysis
Indicating the probability of extinction in the wild to be: Indicating the probability of extinction in the wild to be: CR > 50% in 10 years or 3 generations (100 years max.); EN > 20% in 20 years or 5 generations (100 years max.); VU > 10% in 100 years

No quantitative analysis of the probability of extinction is available for the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal.

Listing recommendationThe range of the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal was dramatically reduced when it was hunted to near extinction. The reduction of this species took place more than three generations (30 years) ago, and its population is now increasing. It is restricted to a single location during the breeding season, but there are no immediately obvious threats that seem likely to drive it to Critically Endangered or even Extinct in a very short time period; it is, however, close to meeting criterion D2 for Vulnerable, and so it is listed as Near Threatened.
History:
1996 Vulnerable
1994 Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Vulnerable (IUCN 1990)
1988 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
1982 Vulnerable (Thornback and Jenkins 1982)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Juan Fernandez Fur Seal is only found ashore regularly in the Juan Fernandez Archipelago in the eastern South Pacific, west of Chile. The Archipelago includes the Juan Fernandez Island group, and the San Felix Islands, approximately 600 km to the north. Vagrant Juan Fernandez fur seals have been found on the west coast of South America from southern Peru to southern Chile.
Countries:
Native:
Chile (Juan Fernández Is.)
Vagrant:
Peru
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Pacific – southeast
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species was hunted alomost to extinction, but was rediscovered in the mid twentieth century. Since that time, numbers have increased. Following the 1990-91 breeding season the total population was estimated to number 12,000 animals; it appears still to be increasing.
Population Trend: Increasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Juan Fernandez Fur Seals are sexually dimorphic, with males about 1.4 times longer and approximately 3 times heavier than adult females. Adult males are estimated to be 2 m long and weigh 140 kg. Lactating females are on average 1.42 m long and weigh an average of 48.1 kg. Newborn pups are approximately 65-68 cm and 6.2-6.9 kg, and are born in a black coat.

The Juan Fernandez Fur Seal is a polygynous species. The breeding season lasts from mid-November to the end of January, and the colonies are essentially vacated by early September (based on the observations of sealers from the late 18th century), and no later than mid-October.

Males defend territories on land that are typically around 36 m² in size and that include an average of four females, but sometimes males hold territories in the water that are much larger. Most adult females give birth within a few days of arriving at the rookery. Mean time from birth to departure on the first foraging trip, post mating, is 11.3 days. Although females can be gone for as little as 1 day, the mean is 12.3 days per foraging trip and the longest trip recorded lasted 25 days. Mean length of pup attendance between foraging trips is 5.3 days with a range of 0.3–15.8 days. Based on the onset of pupping and the observations of vacant colonies in early September, it has been suggested that pups are weaned in 7-10 months. This species prefers to haulout and breed on rocky shorelines with boulders, grottos, overhangs, and caves.

Juan Fernandez Fur Seal females travel long distances to find adequate quantities of prey and, on average, have the longest lasting foraging trips of any otariid. Based on geolocating time-depth recorders, the mean distance travelled away from the breeding colony is 653 km, and all tagged females travelled at least 550 km to forage. Most trips were southwest and west of the Juan Fernandez Islands, far offshore to deep oceanic areas. Despite this, the mean depth of dive is only 12.3 m and the mean duration of dives is 51 seconds; these values are shallow and short even for an otariid and clearly indicate surface feeding. The deepest dives are made to 90–100 m and the longest dives recorded are just over 6 minutes. Nearly all foraging-type dives occur at night.

Juan Fernandez Fur Seals feed extensively on vertically-migrating prey at night. Their diet is one of the least diverse of any otariid, and along with the long foraging trips made by lactating females reflects the low productivity of their oceanic feeding areas. Foraging varies between years and probably reflects abundance and availability of prey. Myctophids are the most important fishes in the diet and onychoteuthid squid are the most important cephalopods.

At sea, these fur seals can be quite animated as they groom at the surface. They also rest at the surface, assuming a number of postures including: head down with hind flippers elevated and swaying in the air, as is typical of many southern fur seals; asleep at the surface with both hind flippers tucked under a fore flipper in a "jug-handle" position; and with both fore flippers or all 4 flippers held in the air.

Little is known about predators of Juan Fernandez Fur Seals but blue and Great White Sharks are suspected predators, as are Killer Whales, and possibly the Leopard Seals that infrequently visit the islands.
Systems: Terrestrial; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Juan Fernandez Fur Seals were hunted to the brink of extinction by commercial sealers trading pelts in China. Intensive sealing began in the late 18th century and ended in the late 19th century, when few could be found. It is likely that several million Juan Fernandez Fur Seals were killed during this period. Small numbers were seen in the early 20th century, but the species was thought to have gone extinct shortly thereafter. The species was rediscovered in the middle of the 20th century and has since been making a slow comeback.

The limited size of the population and the fact that the species passed through a genetic bottleneck makes this species vulnerable to catastrophic events and stress from disease outbreaks, oil spills, environmental regime shift, disturbance, and fisheries conflicts. No fisheries conflicts have been identified to date. Individual seals have been seen with plastic bands around their necks since 1982, but the level of mortality from these entanglements is unknown.

The effects of global climate change on this species are uncertain; however, any negative disruption of the ecosystem of this species, that already undertakes some of the longest foraging trips during the pup dependency period, would likely be a threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Poaching has been prohibited since 1965 (Aguayo 1979). The status of total protection was given to all Arctocephalus species in Chile in 1978 (Torres 1987b, Reijnders et al 1993). Listed on CITES Appendix II.
Citation: Aurioles, D. & Trillmich, F. (IUCN SSC Pinniped Specialist Group) 2008. Arctocephalus philippii. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 19 April 2014.
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