The fur seal is a mammal with an unusual ability to turn its milk production on and off without significantly altering the gross morphology of the mammary gland. This atypical lactation cycle is due to the fact that maternal foraging and infant nursing are spatially and temporally separate (Bonner, 1984). Maternal care involves the suckling of offspring over a period of at least 4 months, but lactation can extend to more than 12 months. Following a perinatal fast of approximately 1 week, females depart the breeding colony to forage at sea and, for the remainder of lactation, alternate between short periods ashore suckling their young with longer periods of up to 4 weeks foraging at sea. Whilst foraging at sea, milk production in the fur seal mammary gland either ceases or is reduced (Arnould & Boyd, 1995b).
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