Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii) killing Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) at Neko Harbour, Antarctic Peninsula
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Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) typically prey on fish, cephalopods, and invertebrates. While other seal species also include penguins as part of their regular diet, such as leopard seals, this behavior seems unusual for Weddell seals. Here, we describe an opportunistic observation of a Weddell seal attacking and killing a Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) at Neko Harbour, Antarctic Peninsula. This behavior has rarely been observed and published. Yet, we collected several additional anecdotal observations from various regions around Antarctica, indicating that this behavior might be more common than previously assumed, challenging our current understanding of Weddell seal foraging ecology.
KeywordsWeddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii) Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) Antarctic Peninsula Foraging ecology Behavior
We would like to thank Captain Oleg Tikhvinsky and Poseidon Expeditions, who scheduled a landing at Neko Harbor that day and made this observation possible. Hugh Rose carefully maneuvered the zodiac to allow for this observation without disturbing the event. Olga Shpak, Kim Goetz, Robert Harcourt, Paul Ponganis, and Horst Bornemann provided publications on this topic and connected us with experts in the field. Additionally, we would like to thank Gerald Kooyman, Cassondra Williams, Kozue Shiomi and Katsufumi Sato for sharing their anecdotal observations and allowing us to include them in our note. We would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers and the editor in chief for their insightful comments, which greatly helped to improve the manuscript.