Seals Losing Fur

Hair loss may be embarrassing for humans but for fur seals it can be life-threatening. Clumps of fur are falling out of fur seals' coats in Bass Strait. Without even protection over their bodies they will die of cold. The problem was identified in a study of seals on Lady Julia Percy Island. Given the sames term as human hair loss, alopecia, the disease began in 1989.

Sea lions don't need fur to keep their body temperature up as they have blubber. Fur seals on the other hand do not store blubber.

The amount of loss for each fur seal was photographically recorded and thermal imaging showed a loss of 6.6 degrees in areas where clumps of hair had fallen out. Such affected seals were in poor health. Mainly males and juvenile were affected. Seals predominantly suffer from the disease in spring/summer. Molting each year does not cure it. Just why alopecea has affected the seals for more than two decades is not known.
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