Seals can be cute but they can be ferocious predators as well, hunting for and attacking other species of seals, seal pups, and yes, even penguins.
Do seals eat penguins? Yes, seals do eat penguins. They hunt them on land but will mostly wait for them to enter the ocean so they can grab them by their feet, shake and beat their bodies vigorously until they’re dead. They then take them to the surface to tear them apart because they lack the teeth necessary to slice the penguins into manageable pieces.
This can be hard to read because penguins are some of the most popular birds or even animals overall. They have almost complete lack of fear of humans and their black-and-white feathers are often likened to a white tie suit.
Which Seals Eat Penguins?
Leopard seals are the main predators of penguins. Several species of the southern fur seals also eat penguins, as part of their diets. And sea lions also love to hunt, kill, and eat penguins.
Do Seals Sexually Assault Penguins?
Yes, they actually are sexually assaulting penguins and it seems to look like they are doing it for pure pleasure. Scientists observed it happening multiple times by fur seals that were assaulting king penguins on sub-Antarctic Marion Island.
Scientists were there doing their weekly census of elephant seal population when they observed another species acting weird. It not unheard of that male of one species of seals is trying to copulate with a female from a different species of seals or even a sea lion.
But this time it was mammals on birds. Quite unusual, don’t you think?
They observed four cases of sexual assault on penguins where a seal chased, captured and mounted a male or female penguin, and attempted to copulate with it several times. The penguins remained pinned down for the duration and penetration could only be confirmed in one instance, though it was likely in all of them.
Three penguins were lucky to escape the rape and one was tragically killed and partially eaten after the act. Yikes!
Are Seals Faster Than Penguins?
Seals are fearsome and quick-witted predators of other, smaller seals and penguins. They are also much, much faster swimmers than penguins. Their top speed is around 24 mph which lets them leap effortlessly out of the water and onto the ice. Penguins on the other hand swim at speeds of 4-7 mph with the fastest species (gentoo) swimming up to 22 mph.
But they’re not relying solely on speed. They are actually quite sneaky and will wait in the water near the edge of the ice for penguins to jump in and grab them by their feet.
They will then shake the penguin vigorously and beat its body against the surface of the water repeatedly until the poor penguin is dead.
Which Animals Eat Penguins?
Lone penguins are not safe on shore or in water and that’s why their safety is in numbers and you can see huge colonies of penguins sticking together.
It’s mostly seabirds and aquatic mammals that are preying on penguins, their young, and their eggs. Giant petrels and skuas take penguins’ chicks and eggs, the snowy sheathbill and kelp gull scavenge for dead chicks and unattended eggs.
Once penguins enter the water, they’re hunted by orcas and leopard seals. Orcas have a special technique called wave hunting that they utilize on seals and penguins.
When penguins are resting on icebergs, orcas will swim in groups to create waves that wash over the iceberg. This washes the birds into the water, where other orcas are ready waiting.
What Is The Most Dangerous Seal In The World?
Our friend, the leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx), also called the sea leopard, is the second-largest seal in the South Pole after the southern elephant seal. Its only natural predator is the killer whale (orca).
Leopard seals have a reptilian-like head and massive jaws which are enormous for its body size and allow it to be one of the top predators. Especially when you consider their considerable weight that can be up to 1,300 lb and their length of up to 10 feet.
The ends of the leopard seal’s mouth are permanently curled upward, making for a menacing grin. Oh, and they also love to play sinister games with their prey even after they’re already full.
As a penguin swims towards the shore, the sea leopard will cut them off and chase them back towards the water. They’ll do this over and over, until the penguin either successfully escapes back to shore, or succumbs to exhaustion.
Do Seals Eat Humans?
We’re coming back to our friend, the leopard seal because they’re the only ones regularly hunting and eating warm-blooded prey. But would they eat a person?
Do seals eat humans? Seals do not eat humans although they do attack them on occasions and there was “only” one death of a person caused by a leopard seal when a biologist was dragged underwater while snorkeling and was held for 6 minutes 200 feet deep.
Her colleagues were able to retrieve her but it was already too late. This example serves as precaution that seals can be ferocious and should not be approached.