Do these seals help the biodiversity of the harbour and if so, in what ways?
Predators are certainly important in maintaining biodiversity. They might prey on other key species like squid and octopus for example, which might benefit crayfish population. Ultimately having more animals in the mix or more individuals or different species is really important in maintaining those different interactions that can occur—otherwise you might have crayfish populations increase disproportionately for example. Having that important balance of predators to keep those other populations in check is very important for a healthy situation.
What do seals get up to during the day?
Whilst they’re at sea, they’re moving a lot—these guys swim big distances. It’s not uncommon for them to swim 100km in a day, even 1000km within a few days. So when they get back to land, with a belly full of fish, sleeping is a big part of their day. During the breeding season— between the months of November and January—males will be guarding their territories and mating with females, whilst females will be nursing their pups.
Are there any particular species of fish that long-nosed fur seals like to eat?
They’re what we call a ‘generalist predator’. Typically, abundant oil-rich fish like red bait, leather jacket, gemfish, squid, lantern fish, as well as penguins and shearwaters.
Would they eat seagulls?
Probably...If they could catch them. They typically only prey on things when they’re in the water. It’s unlikely they would try anything when they’re on land, which they use to rest and breed.
Do they have many predators or human threats?
Typically sharks and killer whales. And then there’s the human threat which includes entanglement in pollution and overfishing. There have been a lot of improvements in rubbish entanglements through awareness, with simple strategies such as cutting bait box straps and not discarding rubbish overboard.