Northern Fur Seals

Meet Commander and Chewbacca

Did you know there are currently just 11 northern fur seals in zoos and aquariums in the United States – and two of them lives right at the Seattle Aquarium? Come say hello to Commander, a 11-year-old male and Chewbacca, a 12-year-old male on your next visit to the Seattle Aquarium!


Where are you from, anyway?
Commander was born at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut; he came to the Seattle Aquarium as part of a breeding collaboration described below. Chewbacca, or Chewy as he’s affectionately known, came to the Seattle Aquarium from the Moody Gardens aquarium in Galveston, Texas!
Big guys, little gals:
Male northern fur seals are up to six times larger than females – that’s called sexual dimorphism, and it’s the largest size difference of any marine mammal species.
More about those really big guys.
Male northern fur seals average between 350 and 600 pounds; females average 95-110 lbs. Males bulk up on food all winter long in preparation for their return to the breeding grounds, where they will spend up to four months on land competing with other males for the opportunity to breed with as many females as possible. Only 10% of males ever get a chance to breed!
Increasing the head count
In 2009, with the hope of increasing the captive population of northern fur seals, the Seattle Aquarium collaborated with the New York Aquarium and the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut to move the animals with the highest breeding potential to the New England Aquarium. The Seattle Aquarium received Commander and sent Isaac, a male who was 10 years old at that time. Isaac was soon seen breeding and fathered a male pup in 2012 and a female pup in 2013!

Quick Facts

Diet: Carnivore
Avg life span in the wild:
Males 10 to 15 years
Females 15 to 20 years
Size: 4 to 10 ft (1.2 to 3.1 m)
Group name: Colony
Chewbacca, northern fur seal at the Seattle Aquarium