Scientists have observed fur seals attempting to have sex with king penguins in the Antarctic, and the bizarre behavior has been caught on camera.
Researchers at the University of Pretoria, who have published their recent findings in the journal Polar Biology, have made four different observations of Antarctic fur seals sexually coercing king penguins on Marion Island.
Footage (below) shows the seals chasing, capturing and mounting the penguins as they try to resist, the Daily Mail reports.
The seals eventually let the penguins go after three of the incidents, but following one attack, the seal killed and ate the penguin.
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This disturbing sexual behavior was first documented in 2006.
“Honestly I did not expect that follow up sightings of a similar nature to that 2006 one would ever be made again, and certainly not on multiple occasions,” Nico de Bruyn of the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, told the BBC.
According to the team of researchers, sexually coercing king penguins may have become a learned behavior because the incidents have happened with different seals.
The researchers believe the incidents may continue, but it is unclear why the seals have begun to exhibit this behavior.
“We really can’t think of what the reward may be for these young males,” de Bruyn said. “Other than perhaps learning that these birds are an easier target to practice their copulatory skills.”
”Perhaps it is a release of sexual frustration, given the hormonal surges during seal breeding season,” he adds. “It is very unlikely to be failed mate recognition - i.e. the misidentification of the penguin as a female seal.”
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