University of Tasmania
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Observations of mortality of fur seals between 1998 and 2005 in Tasmania, Australia

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posted on 2023-11-03, 01:27 authored by AV Lee, R Gales, D Pemberton, A Terauds, A Irvine
Because of their often close relationship with the human environment, the deaths of marine mammals are often documented, particularly if there are links to anthropogenic influences. Between 1998 and 2005 a total of 504 dead Australian Fur Seals, Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus, and New Zealand Fur Seals, Arctocephalus forsteri, were reported in Tasmanian waters. Ninety individuals (18%) were dependent unweaned pups that had been displaced from their natal colonies. Of the 209 adult or subadult seals for which the cause of death could be ascertained,anthropogenic activities were identified as being responsible for the deaths of 172 individuals (82%), with 112 (53%) associated with fish farms. Most fish farm-related deaths occurred during the winter when adult and subadult seals were away from breeding colonies and seal numbers are highest around farms. The next most common cause of death was from firearms (41 individuals - 20%). Death of adults and subadults by natural causes accounted for 37 animals, or 18% of all deaths for which the cause was identified. Excluding pups, most seals were identified as Australian (80%) or New Zealand fur seals (3%). The remainder (17%) were identified as fur seals but not to species. Males were most common (58%), with only 6% identified as females; the sex of 36% could not be determined. Of the males, 106 (26%) were adults and 98 (24%) were subadults or juveniles.


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