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Dublin: 3°C Monday 25 January 2021

Seals are having sex with penguins - and there are videos to prove it

Researchers say it is sexual harassment.

SCIENTISTS MONITORING WILDLIFE on an island in the Antarctic have discovered a troubling proclivity amongst the seals there.

On three separate occasions, a research team led by William A. Haddad and de Bruyn spotted young male seals having sex with penguins.

The incidents, documented in the journal Polar Biology, have been caught on tape.

Seals Source: Polar Biology

Researchers say that the videos show a similar pattern.

“These recurrent observations follow a common pattern where the seal chases, captures and mounts the penguin, followed by copulation attempts.”

The seals had been found to be doing the same thing by a previous research crew and the behaviour is thought to be emergent in them.

Seals 2.gif

However, as to why the seals are doing it, researchers have two ideas.

Two hypotheses directed at possible drivers for these coercive actions are examined: it may be learned behaviour associated with some sort of reward or it may be an extreme case of reproductive interference that can be explained by the ‘mate deprivation hypothesis’, resulting from the continued growth of the (fur seal) population on the island.

This is the first recorded time a pinniped, the type mammal that seals fall under, has attempted to have sex with a bird in the wild.

The researchers say that the behaviour is a form of sexual harassment.

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