EXCLUSIVE: Fur Seals Are Back From the Brink on California Islands
SAN FRANCISCONearly 30 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge, a growing population of feisty, fish-loving northern fur seals is waddling around the craggy Farallon Islands. After all but vanishing from these granite shores by the mid-1800s, the seals have been returning in ever-increasing numbers—just in time to take a hit from a strong, brewing El Niño.
Scientists expect the challenging ocean conditions offshore will affect multiple species, and say the situation is a preview of what could come if warming trends continue.
“Northern fur seals are dramatically affected by El Niños,” says Tony Orr, a wildlife biologist with NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center. Yet he’s optimistic that the population will rebound.
“Their numbers do get smacked down, and it takes