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


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.


Gough Island Arctocephalus tropicalis Hypo-pigmentation Pinniped Rare trait 



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.


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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

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