Current status:

Vulnerable under the IUCN Red List and Depleted under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act


Rocky coastal areas, islands and ocean waters

Causes of decline:

Overhunting for pelts

Current primary threat(s):

Predation, changes in food availability, entanglement in fishing nets, habitat loss or alteration, disturbance, climate change, pollution

What we’re doing about it:

Point Blue has collaborated to champion protection efforts with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), resulting in the return of northern fur seals to breed in 1996 at the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge for the first time in over 150 years. In 2011 at least 180 northern fur seal pups were born on the island, and the following fall we counted 476 animals onshore—a phenomenal 69% increase over 2010.  In 2012 our high count of total Northern Fur Seals increased by 9%, from 476 counted in 2011 to 521 in 2012. They continue to increase, and Southeast Farallon Island is currently the only breeding colony south of Alaska besides San Miguel. Numbers will likely continue to increase, as huge numbers of breeders are moving into areas we can see from the lighthouse, one of our survey areas on the Island (we’ve never seen that before).  We are continuing our long-term monitoring efforts and applying our scientific results to conservation efforts of Northern Fur Seals, other marine animals and and their habitats.

Learn more:

Visit and follow our Los Farallones blog for updates on Northern Fur Seals and other wildlife and work on the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge.

How you can help:

Only eat seafood that is being sustainably harvested, using various guides available to the public, such as Seafood Watch.

Report sightings of injured seals and sea lions to: Marine Mammal Center’s hotline number of 415-289-SEAL, for the local bay area.

Support marine conservation efforts and work, such as Marine Protected Area legislation, local beach clean-ups, sustainable fishing efforts, and ecological research.