In Namibia’s Dorob National Park, kelp gulls are eating the eyeballs of newborn Cape fur seals.
The gulls have discovered that by blinding the seals, they are more vulnerable to other animal attacks – helping the birds get a free meal.
Austin Gallagher, a postdoctoral researcher at Carleton University, says, “A blind seal cannot forage, cannot find mom, and will get attacked by other gulls.”
“It is not a pleasant behavior to observe, as the seals completely freak out and make a lot of noise.”
Gallagher believes the gulls have only recently started targeting eyeballs due to increasing seal populations creating an abundant food source.
In winter, up to 80,000 seals will converge on the Namibian coastline to breed and raise their young. Dominant males can gather harems of up to 40 females during mating season. A female gives birth once a year.