Advertisement

Polar Biology

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 1217–1220 | Cite as

First record of a leucistic sub-Antarctic fur seal

  • Christopher W. Jones
  • Michelle M. Risi
  • Alexis Osborne
  • Marthán N. BesterEmail author
Short Note
  • 79 Downloads

Abstract

Anomalous pelage colourations have been reported to occur in several pinniped species and can potentially be used to assess gene flow amongst conspecific populations. Aberrant pelage colour has not been documented in sub-Antarctic fur seals Arctocephalus tropicalis older than pups. Sub-Antarctic fur seals were inspected on two of the beaches at Gough Island, South Atlantic Ocean, in the austral summer of 2018/19. A leucistic adult male was sighted on 09 January 2019, the first recorded leucistic individual for the species. Given the apparent extreme rarity of leucism in this sub-Antarctic pinniped species, it is unlikely to contribute to assessment of gene flow amongst conspecific populations.

Keywords

Gough Island Arctocephalus tropicalis Hypo-pigmentation Pinniped Rare trait 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Logistical and financial support was provided by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs through the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP), the National Research Foundation (South Africa), the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology (University of Cape Town), Mammal Research Institute (University of Pretoria) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). The Tristan da Cunha Administrator, Island Council and Conservation Department provided permission to work at Gough Island.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Ethical approval

Field procedures were approved by the Animal Ethics Committee of the RSPB.

References

  1. Acevedo J, Torres D, Aguayo-Lobo A (2009) Rare piebald and partially leucistic Antarctic fur seals, Arctocephalus gazella, at Cape Shirreff, Livingston Island, Antarctica. Polar Biol 32:41–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bester MN (1977) Habitat selection, seasonal population changes and behaviour of the Amsterdam Island fur seal Arctocephalus tropicalis on Gough Island. DSc dissertation, University of PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  3. Bester MN (1987) Subantarctic Fur Seal, Arctocephalus tropicalis, at Gough Island (Tristan da Cunha Group). In: Croxall JP, Gentry RL (eds) Status, biology, and ecology of fur seals: proceedings of an international symposium and workshop, Cambridge, England, 23–27 April 1984, NOAA Technical Report NMFS 51, Seattle, Washington, pp 57–60Google Scholar
  4. Bester MN (1982) Distribution, habitat selection and colony types of the Amsterdam Island fur seal Arctocephalus tropicalis at Gough Island. J Zool Lond 196:217–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bester MN, Ryan PG (2007) Mammals. In: Ryan P (ed) Field guide to the animals and plants of Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island. Pisces Publications, Newbury, pp 99–108Google Scholar
  6. Bester MN, Wilson JW, Burle M-H, Hofmeyr GJG (2006) Population trends in Subantarctic fur seals at Gough Island. S Afr J Wildl Res 36:191–194Google Scholar
  7. Bester MN, De Bruyn PJ, Oosthuizen WC, Tosh CA, McIntyre T, Reisinger RR, Postma M, Van der Merwe DS, Wege M (2011) The marine mammal programme at the Prince Edward Islands: 38 years of research. Afr J Mar Sci 33:511–521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bester MN, Ryan PG, Bester WA, Glass T (2014) Vagrant Antarctic fur seals at the Tristan da Cunha Islands. Polar Biol 37:1701–1703CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bester MN, Wege M, Glass T (2019) Counts of sub-Antarctic fur seals at the Tristan da Cunha Islands. Polar Biol 42:231–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bonner WN (1968) The fur seal of South Georgia. Sci Rep Br Antarct Surv 56:1–88Google Scholar
  11. Condy PR (1978) Distribution, abundance, and annual cycle of fur seals (Arctocephalus spp.) on the Prince Edward Islands. S Afr J Wildl Res 8:159–168Google Scholar
  12. De Bruyn PJN, Pistorius PA, Tosh CA, Bester MN (2007) Leucistic Antarctic fur seal at Marion Island. Polar Biol 30:1355–1358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Du Toit KH, Mole MA, Wege M, Reisinger RR, Oosthuizen CW, Shihlomule YD, Jordaan RK, van Tonder A, de Bruyn PJN (2019) Anomalous lanugo coat colourations in sub‑Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus tropicalis) pups born on Marion Island. Polar Biol.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-019-02487-3 Google Scholar
  14. Hoekstra HE (2006) Genetics, development and evolution of adaptive pigmentation in vertebrates. Heredity 97:222–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hoffman JI, Bauer E, Paijmans AJ, Humble E, Beckmann LM, Kubetschek C, Christaller F, Kröcker N, Fuchs B, Moreras A, Shihlomule YD, Bester MN, Cleary AC, De Bruyn PJN, Forcada J, Goebel ME, Goldsworthy SD, Guinet C, Hoelzel AR, Lydersen C, Kovacs KM, Lowther A (2018) A global cline in a colour polymorphism suggests a limited contribution of gene flow towards the recovery of a heavily exploited marine mammal. R Soc Open Sci 5:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hofmeyr GJG, Bester MN (2018) Subantarctic fur seals. In: Wursig B, Thewissen JGM, Kovacs KM (eds) Encyclopedia of marine mammals, 3rd edn, Elsevier Inc. pp 957–960CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hofmeyr GJG, Bester MN, Kirkman SP (2005) Leucistic Antarctic fur seals at Bouvetøya. Polar Biol 29:77–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hofmeyr GJG, de Bruyn PJN, Wege M, Bester MN (2016) A conservation assessment of Arctocephalus tropicalis. In: Child MF, Roxburgh L, Do Linh San E, Raimondo D, Davies-Mostert HT (eds) The red list of Mammals of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. South African National Biodiversity Institute and Endangered Wildlife Trust, South Africa. pp 1–6Google Scholar
  19. Kerley GIH (1983) Relative population sizes and trends, and hybridization of fur seals Arctocephalus tropicalis and A. gazella at the Prince Edward Islands. S Afr J Zool 18:388–392Google Scholar
  20. Peters L, Humble E, Kröcker N, Fuchs B, Forcada J, Hoffman JI (2016) Born blonde: a recessive loss-of-function mutation in the melanocortin 1 receptor is associated with cream coat coloration in Antarctic fur seals. Ecol Evol 6(16):5705–5717CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Romero V, Tirira DG (2017) Leucistic Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella) at Robert Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica, with a note on colour morph nomenclature. Polar Biol 40:1893–1897CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rook A, Wilkinson DS, Ebling FJB, Champion RH, Burton JL (eds) (1998) Textbook of dermatology, 4th edn. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 41–44Google Scholar
  23. St. Clair Hill M, Ferguson JWH, Bester MN, Kerley GIH (2001) Preliminary comparison of calls of the hybridising fur seals, Arctocephalus tropicalis and A. gazella. Afr Zool 36:45–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Summers CG (2009) Albinism: classification, clinical characteristics, and recent findings. Optom Vis Sci 86:659–662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Wege M, Postma M, Tosh CA, De Bruyn PJN, Bester MN (2015) First confirmed record of a leucistic Antarctic fur seal pup born outside the Scotia Arc Islands. Polar Biol 38:569–571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wilson JW, Burle M-H, Bester MN (2006) Vagrant Antarctic pinnipeds at Gough Island. Polar Biol 29:905–908CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The RSPB Centre for Conservation ScienceRoyal Society for the Protection of BirdsSandyUK
  2. 2.Department of Zoology and Entomology, Mammal Research InstituteUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations