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picture galleries and breeding information Pinipeds (seals and sealions) of the Falkland Islands
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Southern Sealions

Southern Sealions are found all around the Falklands, at a total of 93 breeding sites. Sheltered rocky or boulder beaches are usually chosen for breeding.

Southern Sealions mainly feed on squid and fish, with octopus and and Lobster Krill also being taken.

Adult males are much larger than females, and this is important since males compete for dominance at breeding sites.

The largest and stongest bulls establish territories during early December while the females are still at sea.


Bull sealions are very powerful, and will aggressively defend their harem of females.

Unlike true seals, sealions are able to lift themselves onto their flippers and run like a bear.

bull sealion photo

a bull sealion
(click to enlarge photo)

They can run surprisingly quickly, and can be found up to a kilometre or more away from the sea.

Female sealions are much smaller than the adult males

southern sealion photo

a female sealion
(Click to enlarge photo)

Females come ashore to pup in late December and early January. Two to three days after giving birth, females are mated by the dominant bull.

Sealion Population

The population of Falklands sealions now stands at less than 3% of its former size.

This decline has been matched by similar declines in Falklands penguins and Elephant seals.


Graph showing decline of
Falklands sealions.

The initial decline was undoubtedly brought about by massive hunting of sealions for oil and skins, but this trade has now died out, and competition with commercial fisheries for squid and fish is the most likely cause over the last 20 years.

Populations now appear to have levelled out at around 3,000 breeding females.

Whilst the Falklands population crashed, populations across the water in Patagonia showed no such change. These populations have been stable since 1948.

Sealions all rely on fish and squid, which are taken in large quantities by commercial fishing fleets around the Falklands.

In terms of sustainability the Falklands fishing industry is amongst the most well regulated in the world, nevertheless the removal of such large amounts of fish and squid inevitably have an impact on species which depend upon them.

Sealion Breeding Sites

The Map below shows Southern Sealion breeding sites in the Falkland Islands

falkland islands sealion breeding sites map
click to enlarge

The territories break up in February, although females with pups tend to remain close to the breeding site throughout the winter, with pups remaining dependent on the females for up to a year.


Elephant Seals
Elephant Seals look very different to sealions, and are unable to use their flippers to run. They move along on their bellies like giant grubs.
elephant seal photograph
An Elephant Seal
(Click to enlarge photo)
elephant seal photo
Elephant Seals are much
larger than sealions.
(Click to enlarge photo)
Elephant Seal Population
Elephant Seal populations have also crashed in the Falklands, with most of their previous breeding sites now lying deserted.


Graph showing 90% decline
of Falklands Elephant seals

The Falklands population now stands at less than a thousand breeding females, a 90% decline since the onset of commercial fishing in the 1980s. Elephant seals feed on fish and squid, and are capable of diving to great depths

Elephant Seal Breeding Sites
falkland islands elephant seal breeding sites map

The Map to the left shows the only remaining Elephant Seal breeding sites in the Falklands.

Click the map to enlarge.


Fur Seals

Fur Seals are distinguished by their pointed noses and protruding ears

Fur Seals were brought to the very brink of extinction by fur traders during the last century, but populations have since recovered to a moderate level around the Falklands.

fur seal photo
A Fur Seal.
Click for a
bigger Photo.

Fur seals mostly feed on small crustaceans which are not commercially harvested, and Fur Seals have not declined in the way that species dependent upon fish and squid have done.

Fur seals are mostly found on islands along the north and west coasts of the Falklands
Fur Seal Breeding Sites
The map below shows Fur Seal Breeding sites in the falklands. Click the map to enlarge.


falklands fur seal breeding sites map


Leopard Seals

Leopard seals do not breed in the Falklands, but are common visitors to the Falklands, especially during the winter months.

They are much slimmer than other seals, but have a strong, powerful head and jaw, used for catching prey such as penguins.


leopard seal photo
A Leopard Seal


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The Falklands Regime by Mike Bingham - now available online here or from bookshops world-wide, ISBN: 1420813757

The Falklands Regime by Mike Bingham


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