Will the poor little penguin get away--or wind up inside the sea lion's belly?
It's an obvious question for viewers of a video showing a gripping slow-motion chase sequence in which a Gentoo penguin tries desperately to elude the very toothy mouth of its pursuer.
The life-and-death chase sequence--essentially a very chilly game of cat-and-mouse--is one of several predator-prey sequences featured in Frozen Planet, a glossy new Discovery Channel documentary that's set to premiere at p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time on March 18. But whereas predation by wolves (of bison) and killer whales (of seals) is just plain scary, the sea lion-penguin sequence alternates between chilling and comical.
After successfully eluding the sea lion in deep water and in the shallows, the wily Gentoo heads ashore--with the sea lion close behind.
"It's hard to say which of these two champion swimmers is less suited to a footrace," intones the documentary's narrator, Alec Baldwin. "But the hunter is gaining, and it's curtains for the Gentoo."
Or is it? You'll have to watch the video to find out.
Whatever the outcome, taking the chase to land was probably a good idea. "I would guess about 95 percent of penguins that get caught get caught at sea by stealth," marine ecologist Dr. David G. Ainley told The Huffington Post. "Life isn't easy" for penguins, he said, adding that the birds are preyed upon by seals and killer whales as well as sea lions. "They have to be vigilant all the time while pursuing their own food."
Yes, of course, penguins are predators too. Watch out, little fishies.