Watch out for the Leopard Seals

Last night we came home after dinner at a Thai restaurant and turned on the Discovery Channel. A show about Antarctica called Blue Planet showcased the lives of the Emperor penguins, and their daily struggle to avoid becoming lunch for the fierce predators just below the ice. The beasts they fear are the Leopard seals, who are called “the polar bears of the South.”

It seems that there are no polar bears in Antarctica, just millions and millions of penguins. These rotund little birds swim at very rapid speeds, they get their speed up, flapping their flippers and soar out of the water to try to get on the land. The video showed them launching themselves up out of the waves, and sometimes successfully landing on the rocky shoal. Often the birds would be dragged back into the raging surf, to try again. The nice part of getting up there is that there is a volcano smoldering high at the top of the mountain, so the rocks are clear of ice, and quite warm. The penguins then have to walk many miles up and over to get to where they nest. But then they want to get back in the water….and the danger lurks. The leopard seals wait, knowing these fat creatures are about to dive in, and inevitably snare one or two to make a meal.