Emperor Penguins Predators
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Emperor Penguins Predators


Several different animals are considered Emperor penguins predators, including the Leopard seal, the Southern Giant petrel, the Skua, the Orca and several types of sharks. Earlier, abandoned sled dogs and their pups would turn into Emperor penguins predators, but today there are not abandoned dogs on Antarctica.

Emperor penguins predators – The Leopard seals
The Leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx) is a capable Emperor penguins predator that possesses a highly developed sense of smell and remarkable eyesight. It also has a streamlined body that makes it possible for this animal to travel fast and swiftly through the water when it hunts. The front teeth of the Leopard seal are sharp and resemble those found on most predator species, but the molars have adapted to a marine life and can be locked together. This adaptation make is possible for the Leopard seal to sieve krill from the water. The Leopard seal is not only a skilled Emperor penguins predator; it feeds on a wide range of other animals too. The diet of a Leopard seal can for instance include King penguins, fish, squid and even other seals, such as the Crabeater seal. The Leopard seal is the second biggest seal species in the Antarctic (only the Southern Elephant seal is bigger) and it is therefore close to the top of the food chain. The only known Leopard seal predator is the Orca.

This Emperor penguins predator has developed a very particular method of penguin hunting. The Leopard seal will patrol the waters close to the ice edge, and stay right under the waters’ surface waiting for the penguins to arrive. When a penguin enters the water, the Leopard seal will immediately grab it by its feet and start beating its body against the waters’ surface until the penguin is not only dead, but also skinned. During the summer season, the Leopard seals will usually hunt penguins around the pack ice that surrounds the Antarctic continent. During the winter, the Leopard seals can be found further north, around the sub-Antarctic islands. Sightings of Leopard seal are sometimes reported from Australia, New Zeeland and the southern coast of South America, but such occurrences are rare.  

Emperor penguins predator – The Southern giant petrel
This Emperor penguins predator is a huge seabird; somewhat similar to the more famous Albatross. They are however not closely related. The Southern Giant Petrel belongs to the genus Macronectes, in the family Procellariidae, while the Albatrosses can be found in four different genera of the family Diomedeidae.

Until 1966, the giant petrels found in Antarctica was considered to belong to the same species as those found further to the north. Today, science distinguishes between the Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus) and Northern Giant Petrel (Macronectes halli). Their ranges overlap somewhat, but it is only the Southern Giant Petrel that have colonized Antarctica. These two species are the biggest members of the petrel family and their wingspan can be up to 190 centimeters (6.2 feet).

The Southern Giant Petrel is not only an aggressive Emperor penguins predator; it feeds on a wide range of different animals and will hunt on land as well as at sea. It is also an opportunistic scavenger and is sometimes referred to as “The Stinker”. If the Southern Giant Petrel finds penguin or seal carrion, it will display its dominance over the carcass by stretching out its wings, keep the wingtips pointed slightly back, raising its tail, and point its head at any opponent. The diet of a Southern Giant Petrel will typically also include fish, squid, krill, and sea birds.

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