Penguin brutally beheaded in a bloody attack by a leopard seal in incredible nature pictures

A PENGUIN has its head ripped from its body in a bloody attack by a leopard seal.

Remarkable pictures show the moment a 770lb predator hunts down a 13lb gentoo penguin in the sea off Antarctica.

The images were taken over 15 minutes by photographer Yuri Choufour from Vancouver, Canada.

He watched amazed as the seal played with its prey before swiftly decapitating it and devouring its victim.

The seal then bobbed its head above the water after its successful hunt, showing off the result of its effort.

Yuri captured the nature pics from just 60 feet away on a trip run by Albatros Expeditions.

Yuri said: "Leopard seals are near the top of the food chain in Antarctica, with orcas being their only predator.

“Leopard seals eat krill, fish, and even other seal species but are most notorious for the savage ways they’ve been known to hunt penguins.

“At times, they seemingly play with their injured prey rather than killing it immediately."

Yuri said he watched the leopard seal release the injured penguin multiple times – only to chase it down again.

“In a place as remote as Antarctica, being in such close quarters with predator and prey is something so very few people will ever witness," he said.

“Looking back at the metadata from my images, we spent nearly fifteen minutes watching this struggle unfold, which I’ll add is an extremely long time to watch something like this.

“Spending time in Antarctica often leads to a fondness for penguins, so watching this particular bird hopelessly fight for its life was not easy.

“People’s reactions are usually a mix of shock and amazement but understandably, some people are a bit horrified by the more graphic images.

"That being said, most people still want to know the story behind the encounter."

The photographer felt the images showed how nature can sometimes be "ruthless and cruel"

“By comparison, many humans live really comfortable lives while most species have to fight for their survival every single day," he said.

"It was definitely one of those right place-right time situations, and I was ready to capture it.”

The leopard seal is named for its black-spotted coat which is similar to that of its big cat namesake.

Leopard seals are fierce predators and the only ones that feed on warm-blooded prey, such as other seals.

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