For a penguin fleeing an onslaught from one of the ocean's top predators, any viable escape route will do – even if it means leaping into a tourist-laden Zodiac (skip ahead to 1:22 for the chase).

Matthew and Anna Karsten were on a scenic cruise amongst the icebergs of the Gerlache Strait back in 2019 when they came across a pod of orcas. Undeterred by human onlookers, the two-toned predators rollicked amongst a scattering of tourist boats, but when a penguin swam into the area, the orcas quickly went into hunting mode and began pursuing the potential meal.

Gentoo penguins, like the ride-hitching bird in the Karsten's video, are speedy swimmers and have impressive manoeuvrability in the water – survival tactics that they must use to good effect if they hope to outsmart an orca. After a back-and-forth pursuit that lasted a few minutes, the penguin launched itself into one of the boats and hunkered down amongst a group of sightseers who seemed only too happy to help.

Penguins are known for their ability to leap out of the water at speed to escape attacking predators. The technique, called "porpoising", is typically employed near land, but any solid surface will suffice. Safe in the Zodiac, the penguin bided its time before eventually returning to the icy waters once the orcas had abandoned the hunt.

According to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators: "Very rarely, swimming penguins can find themselves in a small boat when they ‘porpoise’, landing on the deck. Occupants should remain quiet and wait for the penguin to find its own way over the side and return to the water. It is normally not necessary to assist." (So we'll pretend we didn't see that gentle nudge that helped the penguin aboard.)

Regulations also stipulate that a 100-metre distance from whales should be maintained when possible and noise must be kept to a minimum – a challenge that may prove tricky when you're smack-bang in the middle of an epic orca hunt. 

“It was crazy to see in person. It was like watching a National Geographic episode on location," Matthew Karsten told The Independent. "I imagine the penguin was very relieved to get away.” The orcas, meanwhile, seemed less enthused about the outcome and were forced to find a meal elsewhere.

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