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The Guadalupe Fur Seal (Arctocephalus townsendi) on San Nicolas Island, California





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The Guadalupe fur seal (Arctocephalus townsendi) formerly ranged from Islas Revillagigedo (19°N lat) northward to the Farallon Islands, California (Repenning, Peterson, and Hubbs 1971). The species was intensively hunted throughout its range and nearly exterminated by commercial sealers in the 19th century. A few surviving animals discovered in 1928 on Isla de Guadalupe, Mexico were quickly slaughtered; the species was not observed again until its "rediscovery" in 1949, when a single male was observed on San Nicolas Island, California (Bartholomew 1950). Subsequently, a small group of fur seals was found on Isla de Guadalupe in 1954 (Hubbs 1956). The fur seal population on Isla de Guadalupe increased slowly from a few hundred animals in 1956 to 1000-2000 animals in 1978 (Pierson 1978). Although the Guadalupe fur seal has not been reported from San Nicolas Island since 1949 (Bartholomew 1950), occasional sightings of adult males and juveniles have been made on San Miguel Island, approximately 110 km to the northwest, and at sea in the Southern California Bight (G. Antonelis and R. L. DeLong, pers. comm.).