SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Boffins have shot shocking footage of seals trying to rape penguins, which are normally one of their food sources.
A team of scientists has captured frank images of fur seals mounting king penguins, who are powerless to resist the sea-borne sex pests.
Animal experts working on the Marion Island, near the Antarctic, found the attacks followed the same grim pattern. First the seal would chase the penguin, before pinning it down and attempting to copulate with it in several five minute bursts.
The seals would then take a rest before trying to once again attack the terrified penguin.
Researchers spotted this disgusting scene four times. Most of the time, the penguin is let go, but on one occasion the sadistic seal killed and ate its target.
This is not the first time such behaviour has been observed. Back in 2006, boffins saw the similarly sordid acts take place on the very same island.
"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," said Nico de Bruyn, who works at the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria.
Scientists are not sure why the seals have become sex beasts, but think it might be a problem that's getting worse.
"Seals have capacity for learning," added de Bruyn. "We know this from their foraging behaviour, for example.
It may be that seals see other animals attacking penguins and then decide to copy them.
"I genuinely think the behaviour is increasing in frequency," De Bruyn continued.
An advert for the film March of the Penguins famously contained a slogan which cautioned: "Danger. May contain mild peril."
Judging by the boffins' grim expose showing reality of life as a sexually harassed penguin, the danger may be more than just mild.
The report is called Multiple occurrences of king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) sexual harassment by Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) and can be found here. ®
Sponsored: What next after Netezza?