Fluffy, cute killing machines

Look out! That penguin's got a mean streak a mile wide! Photo: dracophylla/Flickr

Look out! That penguin’s got a mean streak a mile wide! Photo: dracophylla/Flickr

If you’re in the Antarctic, it’s not the cold you should be worried about; it’s the Adelie penguins. That is, if you’re a krill.

It turns out the cute, waddling critters are some of nature’s most efficient killing machines. Scientists at Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research kitted out 12 wild penguins with cameras to monitor their hunting habits, something that’s been difficult to observe until now. The cameras were programed to start filming as soon as the birds dove underwater, then recorded the following 90 minutes.

The footage is nothing short of a crustacean blood-bath. The krill were hopelessly unable to escape the predators and the penguins managed to eat an average of 244 krill over 90 minutes when they were searching for prey underwater. The rate of consumption went up when the penguins employed another tactic: By standing on the edge of the water and diving in when a large swarm passed by, the penguins were able to gobble up two krill per second.

And you thought your all-you-can-eat-sushi skills were impressive.

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