New Zealand Fur Seal / Kekeno
The Kekeno is the most common seal in New Zealand and their numbers are estimated to be over 200,000 seals. They prefer rocky shore lines and we have plenty of that here in Kaikōura which makes this the perfect place for the New Zealand fur seal. We often see them out on our tours while they are out foraging for food in the Kaikōura canyon.
Rather than being a true seal they are more closely related to a sea lion but they are in fact a fur seal. They have two thick layers of fur, external ear flaps and they can stand up on their fore flippers and their hind flippers can turn forward. Their flippers are the only part of their body where they do not have fur so they can often be seen sticking their flippers out of the water into the air. Although it looks like they are giving us a wave as we drive past, they are regulating their body temperature by catching a breeze or a bit more sun.
They can dive deeper than any other fur seal. They have been known to dive to depths of over 230 meters and they can hold their breath for up to 11 minutes!
What do NZ fur seals eat? They feed mainly on squid and smaller species of fish but they are capable of feeding on larger fish that are found in the canyon such as conger eels, hoki and barracuda. The most common thing that we see them feed on here in Kaikōura is octopus. As the fur seal cannot break the octopus into smaller pieces in an easy way they hold the octopus in its mouth and thrash it back on forth onto the surface of the water and eventually breaking it up into smaller pieces.