Australia has around 13 seal colonies most of them are on rocky islands located in the Bass Strait between the mainland’s Victoria and Tasmania.
With a furry face, two large eyes, and whiskers on a pointed snout, these broadly headed fur seals have two external ears which distinguished them from other seals. Wearing two layers of brown fur they can move on four limbs using their flippers to swim in the deep, raise their bodies, and roll on land.
Skillful fishers that can dive up to 200 meters deep in the ocean, the fur seals feed on fish, octopus, and squid munching their catch with their sharp teeth.
The male fur seals measure 135 to 227 centimeters long and weigh about 218 to 360 kilograms. They are territorial during breeding seasons, and those without territories are called bachelors. The males or bulls which sport a dark mane of coarse fur are usually larger than the females, also called cows. The cows, weighing 60 to 80 kilograms give birth to 4-kilogram pups, nurse and feed them until they grow. Twelve months later, a cow will give birth again. Fur seals have a life-span of up to 20 years.
They live mostly on the rocky islands in the Bass Strait making Phillip Island’s Seal Rocks and Lady Julia Percy Island two of their largest colonies. Of the fur seal colonies, Seal Rocks is the most popular to tourists.
Located 2 kilometers off the coast of the Nobbies on Phillip Island’s western tip, Seal Rocks serves as a colony and home to over 30,000 individual seals which are a quarter of the entire fur seal population. They live and play on the rocky surface of Seal Rocks entertaining visitors, tourists, and seal watchers. They can even swim close to your boat to know who their visitors are.
Closely related to the African fur seals, the Australian fur seals have been among Phillip Island’s most productive residents although they’re sometimes threatened by entanglements from fishnets set up by humans and from their shark predators.
The breeding season falls from October to December, and this period is the best time to visit the seal colony. The bulls rest and protect their territories while the cows feed their pups and the juveniles playfully wrestling with each other on the rock. Others would just swim and cool off in the sea water diving to catch some fish.
Don’t miss the fur seals of Seal Rocks, one of Australia’s largest seal colonies, on your itinerary to Phillip Island.