Compared to other mammals alive today, fur seals are a recent arrival. The oldest fossils of fur seals come from the late Miocene Period (10 to 7 million years ago) and were found in the North Pacific region. In the late Pliocene Period (3 to 2 million years ago), early fur seals crossed into the Southern Hemisphere. There, they diversified quickly and nine different species evolved.

Australian Fur Seals are identical to Cape Fur Seals which live in southern Africa. They are called ‘sub-species’. Some Cape Fur Seals probably crossed the Indian Ocean and arrived in Australia to establish what we now call the Australian Fur Seal. This crossing probably happened about 12,000 years ago. This was around the time of the end of the last ice-age.