Northern fur seals belong to the family known as eared seals, more commonly called sea lions. They differ from the true seals in having small external earflaps and hind flippers that can be turned to face forwards. Together with strong front flippers, this gives them extra mobility on land and an adult fur seal can move extremely fast across the beach if it has to. They also use their front flippers for swimming, whereas true seals use their hind flippers (3). Sea lions show a considerable size difference between the sexes. A bull northern fur seal is a big heavy animal, over two metres in length and weighing as much as 270 kg. Their fur varies in colour, ranging from reddish to black, and they have thick necks and a mane (2). The females (cows) are much smaller, less than a metre and a half in length and weighing a fifth as much as the bulls (2). Their colouring differs, too, having a silvery-grey back, with reddish-brown at the front and a whitish-grey patch on the chest (4). Young seal pups are black with paler markings around the nose and mouth (2).
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