SEXUAL SEAL-ING: Horny mammals start cross-breeding with PENGUINS in the Antarctic

More than one fur seal has been caught in the act on more than one occasion and the whole thing has been caught on camera.

Animal experts said the aggressive sexual behaviour of the seals did not come as a complete shock.

They said they first saw a seal trying to have sex with a king penguin on Marion Island – a sub-Antarctic island that is home to both species – in 2006 and suggested at the time the sex act was either the behaviour of a sexually inexperienced seal, an aggressive act or a playful one that somehow turned sexual.

But the new incidents still took the researchers by surprise.

Nico de Bruyn, of the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, said: “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.” 

Scientists routinely monitor wildlife on the island and look out for unusual behaviour and on three separate occasions, a research team led by William A. Haddad and Prof de Bruyn spotted young male seals sexually coercing what appeared to be healthy penguins of unknown gender.

Two incidents occurred on Goodhope Bay, and one on Funk beach. 

Prof de Bruyn said: “This really made us sit up and take notice.”

All four known sexual incidents followed a common pattern. Each time a seal chased, captured and mounted the penguin. The seal then attempted sex several times, lasting about five minutes each, with periods of rest in between.

In three of the four recorded incidents the seal let the penguin go but on one occasions the seal killed and ate the penguin after trying to mate with it.

Scientists said these were the only known cases of mammals trying to have sex with birds.

They said they could only speculate about why the seals are behaving this way but suggested it may be becoming a learned behaviour among seals on the island.

Prof de Bruyn said: ”Seals have capacity for learning – we know this from their foraging behaviour for example.

“So male seals may see each other coercing penguins, then attempt it themselves.

“Perhaps it is a release of sexual frustration, given the hormonal surges during seal breeding season. It is very unlikely to be failed mate recognition – the misidentification of the penguin as a female seal.

“All in all it’s difficult to say.” 

Daily Express :: World Feed

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