Ever heard of seals mating with penguins? Well mammals and penguins seem to be moving on to this unheard behavior in the sub-Antarctics.
Scientists are however not shocked by the behavior since it had been noticed among the two species in 2006 for the first time on Marion Island, a sub-Antarctic island where both live. The findings were published and scientists assumed it was the behavior of an inexperienced seal.
But eight years later the same sexual act has been recorded again and on multiple occasions. The new developments are being published in the study “Multiple occurrences of King Penguin sexual harassment by Antarctic fur seals. A similar behavior was not expected after all these years said a scientist of the Mammal Research Institute of South Africa.
The copulating act has been noticed on three occasions. Two of the incidents took place at Goodhope Bay and the third on Funk Beach. The 2006 incident took place on Trypot beach. In three of the four incidents the seal allowed the penguin to leave but in the last one it ate the bird. It is common for fur seals to catch and eat penguins.
Scientist are not sure as to why such an odd copulating attempt is taking place. They feel that it might be a learned behavior for young seals on the island. Seals are capable of learning and picking up behaviors said a scientist. So when a male seal sees others trying to mate with penguins they try to do it themselves. That might explain why the behavior is on the rise. Scientists feel it may also be a way of releasing frustration during the breeding season because it is highly unlikely that the seals mistook penguins for female seals. But identifying the real reason is very difficult.