Baby seal eyeballs!

Picked by just 12% of my audience, it was perhaps predictably unpopular. You’re a real black sheep, hey? But no worries, I don’t judge… I’m not alerting the authorities as you read this… Let’s see who really eats baby seal eyeballs!

Kelp Gulls (Larus dominicanus)

Meet the kelp gull! Their strategy goes a little something like this… First, peck out the eyeballs of a baby seal (entrée). Said baby seal is then blinded and loses its mother. It can no longer feed. It eventually dies. Gull feasts on the carcass (main course).

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An eater of baby seal eyeballs: evil or incredibly resourceful? Photo: Don Faulkner

I know what you’re thinking. Those cruel mother cluckers. But this hunting strategy is likely just an adaptation to overfishing and rising seal populations. In areas with little human interference, like Antarctica, kelp gulls mostly eat fish!

This eyeball eating population live in Namibia though, where fish stocks may be falling but cape fur seal populations are rising. So really, these birds have just been incredibly resourceful and adapted their feeding habits in accordance with their changing environment.

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See it’s not all eyeballs. Photo: David Nunn

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Reference

Gallagher, A. J., Staaterman, E. R., & Dreyer, N. (2015). Kelp gulls prey on the eyes of juvenile Cape fur seals in Namibia. African Journal of Marine Science, 37(3), 411-414. doi: 10.2989/1814232X.2015.1071718