Scientists report colony of Galápagos fur seals in northern Peru

The Organization for Research and Conservation of Aquatic Animals, or Orca, says a colony of fur seals endemic to the Galápagos Islands have established a colony off the coast of northern Peru as a result of increased sea surface temperature in the region.

The colony includes 30 fur seals that traveled 1,500 kilometers, about 932 miles, from Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands to the Foca Island, located off the coast of Peru’s Piura department, daily El Comercio reported. The president of Orca, Carlos Yaipén, says the Foca colony is the first reported outside the Galápagos archipelago and due to an increase in sea temperature caused by climate change.

“Never before has a residency of Galápagos fur seals been reported outside of the islands. Individual fur seals have been reported stranded in Ecuador and Colombia, here as well, but never a colony,” says Yaipén. “This is due to their adaptation to climate change. The conditions of the sea around Piura are now similar to the Galápagos. This could result in the arrival of more fur seals as well as other species.”

Surface sea temperature around off the coast of Piura has reportedly increased over the last 10 years from an average of 17 degrees Celsius to 23 degrees Celsius. Sea temperature around the Galápagos Islands averages 25 degrees Celsius.

The Galápagos Islands is an archipelago of 19 volcanic islands located at the confluence of three ocean currents about 604 miles west of continental Ecuador. The islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique “living museum and showcase of evolution.” In 1978, they were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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