Definitions

kekeno

Australasian Fur Seal

The Australasian Fur Seal (Arctocephalus fosteri), or New Zealand Fur Seal or Southern Fur Seal, is a species of fur seal found around the south coast of Australia, the coast of the South Island of New Zealand, and some of the small islands to the south and east of there. Male-only colonies are also located on the Cook Strait coast of the North Island near Wellington. The English common name New Zealand Fur Seal is used by English speakers in New Zealand (kekeno is used in the Māori language), and Southern Fur Seal by English speakers in Australia. Although the two populations show some genetic differences, their morphologies are very similar, and thus they remain classed as a single species.

These seals were widely hunted from shortly after the European discovery of New Zealand until the late 19th Century. The population of the New Zealand seal fell to levels under 10% of the original numbers. In New Zealand the Fur Seal is now protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1978).

Although the seals look docile, they can move surprisingly quickly and it is advisable never to approach a female with young or get between a seal and the water, cutting off its escape route to the sea. Their teeth are very sharp and many New Zealanders have been bitten.

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