See a Tiny Penguin Make a Dash for Safety From a Hunting Seal

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Published: November 15, 2022
© robert mcgillivray/
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BBC Earth gives animal and planet lovers a look at the world in such a unique way. During their series, “Seven Worlds, One Planet,” they showcase natural predators: penguins and leopard seals. 

Leopard seals are enormous, equipped with a large set of intimidating fangs, and have a colorful past filled with encounters with people. The name “leopard seal” refers to their spotted coats. These Antarctic creatures are carnivores, the same as their namesake large cats. 

Leopard Seal lying on ice
As carnivores, leopard seals have one of the most diversified diets of all seals.

©Gilad Rom / Creative Commons

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Leopard seals consume one of the seals’ most diversified diets. They consume seabirds like penguins, as well as to the microscopic crustaceans known as krill. The BBC Earth footage shows just how fearsome these animals are to the defenseless penguin. 

The varied diet of leopard seals is reflected in their teeth. While their trident-shaped molars are utilized like a strainer to sift out water when they capture helpings of tiny prey like krill, their powerful canines and incisors are employed to grip and tear huge animals. 

A Close Call

Leopard seals have excellent swimming prowess but lack elegance on shore. They frequently lurk underwater close to an ice shelf, waiting to capture the penguins as they leap into the water.

In the footage below, we witness just how lucky one little penguin is. A leopard seal makes many attempts to attack the artic bird and has no luck. At one point, the two animals are just inches apart. 

The seal is making noises toward the penguin and the penguin talks right back! After many failed attempts, the leopard seal takes the loss and waddles back into the chilly water. It’s safe to say this is one tough penguin, especially since it’s alone. 

By virtue of their huge numbers, as well as their swimming prowess, which includes underwater maneuvering, quick escapes from the water, and burst swimming speeds, penguins in big colonies build an effective defense against these predators.

Because they use their left eye during battle, penguins nip at their adversaries’ right sides. They most certainly use the left flipper to attack for the same purpose, and they’re not the only ones that use this tactic. Wild horses will also turn to look at an intrusion with their left eye before charging. 

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About the Author

When she's not busy playing with her several guinea pigs or her cat Finlay Kirstin is writing articles to help other pet owners. She's also a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities and is passionate about social justice. There's nothing that beats a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and Frank Sinatra on vinyl for this millennial.

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