Posted on by Dr Roger Kirkwood
Pupping season has commenced at Seal Rocks with 5-10% of expected pups born by 14 November, 2012. Big males are marshalling other seals around their territories, snorting, growling, chasing – but mostly conserving energy. They will be on duty for up to 50 days during which they won’t feed and will lose up to 50% of their weight. Some tardy yearlings are trying to convince their mums to ignore the new born and feed them. Mums are focusing on the business at hand – keeping their new born alive. They get quite intolerant of any distraction, particularly from nosey neighbouring pups. There’s a lot of action out there, particularly in the cooler hours of the day.
The public should be aware that up to 7,000 Australian fur seal pups will be born at Seal Rocks during November and mid-December, and many won’t make it. They could starve (particularly if their mums are not too experienced), get crushed, or be washed away. Any big seas between now and late December will extract carcasses and unaware live pups, and deposit them on Phillip Island beaches. Yearlings that are not making a good fist of it may also turn up seeking easy food from jetty-fishermen. Please don’t feed these seals, it doesn’t help them survive and only makes them a nuisance to the fishermen.
Seal Rocks is the largest breeding colony of Australian fur seals in the world. An exciting and vibrant wildlife spectacle to have on our door-step, and an important component of the Bass Strait ecosystem.
Dr Roger Kirkwood