Antarctic Leopard Seal. This photo and the following short story from my underwater Leopard seal encounter was published in National Geographic Magazine, May 2005…
Diving with Polar Predators–Leopard Seals
Named for their aggressive tendencies as well as for their spotted coats, leopard seals are among Antarctica’s top predators, hunting virtually anything: penguins, fish, and other seal species.
In 2004, two of the thousand-pound seals approached California physicist David Barr while he was diving off the Antarctica Peninsula.
Realizing the danger but determined to photograph the animals, he focused on a curious female. Suddenly “she lunged toward my body with those open jaws, and I felt a bite.” It was just a warning. “She was guarding ‘her’ iceberg,” Barr says. Though he wasn’t hurt, he was chagrined. Leopard seals sieve krill through their smaller teeth, but their canines are meant to pierce flesh. The force of a serious bite could have “easily crushed my skull,” Barr admits.
He was lucky. In 2003, about 200 miles from Barr’s dive site, Kirsty Brown, a marine biologist with the British Antarctic Survey, was killed by a leopard seal while snorkeling.”
Ross Ice Shelf photo published in National Geographic Magazine, December 2009.
The Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica is a gigantic floating glacier the size of Texas or France. Visitors explore a deep blue crevasse near the edge of the shelf, which delineates a large flake of ice ready to fall into the Ross Sea. The shelf rises more than 100 feet above the sea, but extends to depths 1000 feet below the sea surface.
The Ross Ice Shelf photo was selected for the 2012 Ross Dependency Definitive Series of collectible postage stamps by the New Zealand Post.
Leopard Seal performing an aggressive “Fly-By” while patrolling its iceberg in Antarctica
(that’s ice at the bottom foreground).
Leopard Seal, serpentine lunge with jaws agape (underwater)
Leopard Seal staring-down the underwater photographer in Antarctica. Behind this seemingly friendly portrait lurks a menacing predator.
Elephant Seal and Fur Seal dispute over beachfront property
Elephant Seal, South Georgia Island
Centuries-old dessicated seal carcass sublimating in the frigid desert of Taylor Dry Valley
Elephant seal in tussock grass near King penguin rookery, South Georgia Island
King penguin portrait, South Georgia Island
Whale skeleton with Gentoo penguins nesting near and inside
Gentoo penguin regurgitating krill to its fledgling chick
Adelie penguins on storm-stacked sea ice
Adelie penguin inspecting its eggs
100,000 Adelie penguins nesting at their Cape Adare rookery
Chinstrap penguin ensemble
Chinstrap penguin fledgling portrait
Sea Stars embrace while sharing a meal in frigid Antarctic waters (underwater)
Limpet with tiny crustaceans (underwater)
Glacier face illuminated by golden sunset
Lenticular clouds at sunset
Lenticular clouds at sunset (detail)
Blue iceberg with eroded grooves
Blue iceberg with fragile arch
Iceberg with blue stripe (meltwater has refrozen into a solid block of clear ice).
Notice also the Lion’s Head appearance at the top of the iceberg.
Glacier threatens historic hut of American Base Station on Stonington Island
Antarctic researchers transport their equipment in the vast expanse of Antarctica
Green Copper compounds efflorescing from bedrock
Glaciated mountains reflected in Marguerite Bay
Sir Robert Falcon Scott’s historic 1910-13 Terra Nova hut, Cape Evans, Ross Island
(active volcano Mt. Erebus in the background)
Chemistry bench inside Scott’s historic Terra Nova hut
Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton’s historic 1907-1910 Nimrod hut, Cape Royds, Ross Island
Stromness Whaling Station under gale-force katabatic winds, South Georgia Island
(also visible in the background is the final leg of the Shackelton Walk)
Humpback whale breaching, upside-down and just before the splash
Black-browed Albatross (these giant birds soar enough mileage during their lifetime to circle the globe 140 times, according to National Geographic)
Bouvet Island at dawn (the most remotely located island territory on the planet)