Things are heating up in the cold climes of the sub-Antarctic. On a remote, and mostly desolate island, seals have been caught engaging in an extreme form of sexual behaviour.
Specifically, they have been trying to have sex with penguins.
More than one fur seal has been caught in the act, on more than one occasion.
And it’s all been captured on film, with details being published in the journal Polar Biology.
Perhaps it is a release of sexual frustration
The sexual behaviour of the fur seals hasn’t come as a complete shock to the scientists that recorded it.
In 2006, they saw, for the first time, a fur seal attempting to copulate with a king penguin, on Marion Island, a sub-Antarctic island that is home to both species.
They published details of that incident, and speculated that the sex act at the time may have been the behavior of a frustrated, sexually inexperienced seal. Or an aggressive, predatory act. Or a playful one that turned sexual.
Bad day at the beach? (credit: Thebeccamurray / CC by 2.0)
But the new incidents, published in the study “Multiple occurrences of king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) sexual harassment by Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella)“, still surprised the researchers.
“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, of the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Scientists routinely monitor wildlife on the island, and look out for rare and unusual behaviour.
On three separate occasions, a research team led by William A. Haddad and de Bruyn spotted young male seals sexually coercing what appeared to be healthy penguins of unknown gender.
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