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Photographer Adopted Rather Than Attacked by Leopard Seal


Photographer Paul Nicklen was hesitant about getting in the water with leopard seals in Antarctica as they are fearsome predators, but instead of being threatened by him, the seal adopted him:

Leopardseal "I slipped into the water, terrified of what might happen, and I swam up to this leopard seal. My legs were shaking and I had dry mouth. Right away she dropped the penguin. She came up to me and she opened her mouth … and her head is twice as wide as a grizzly bear’s head. She’s huge. She took my whole head and my camera inside her head and did this threat display. But then the most remarkable thing happen. She went off and got me a live penguin. She came up and she started to feed me a penguin. She kept letting these live penguins go and the penguin would shoot past me and she’d look disgusted as she go by me. She did this over and over."


(via neatorama)

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  1. Amazing story, although naturally I'm a bit mortified at the thought of all those penguins killed unnecessarily as the seal tried to coax the photographer into eating them!

    Posted by: sparks | Nov 17, 2009 2:06:31 PM

  2. Glad it worked out, but thats a really dumb thing to do.

    See: chimp lady.

    Posted by: Wes | Nov 17, 2009 2:16:58 PM

  3. That is one rosy-cheeked, clean-scrubbed, yummy photographer. I would drop my penguin for him, too.

    And those are some amazing pictures.

    Posted by: hugo | Nov 17, 2009 2:19:49 PM

  4. I bet it tasted just like chicken!

    Anyway, seals are generally known to be friendly to humans, so I'm not really buying the whole scary predator angle to this.

    Posted by: anon | Nov 17, 2009 2:27:43 PM

  5. I think it was purely sexual. Is he sure it was a female...looks like a rough queen to me.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 17, 2009 2:28:44 PM

  6. The seal was bringing him LIVE seals, and was getting frustrated because the photog wouldn't take them and the penguins would swim off...

    Posted by: Jerry | Nov 17, 2009 2:42:50 PM

  7. live penguins, sorry

    Posted by: Jerry | Nov 17, 2009 2:44:01 PM

  8. I still side with the emperors over the seals, but that was cute.

    Posted by: Rodney Wollam | Nov 17, 2009 2:57:58 PM

  9. So, Paul, eat some penguin already... jeez.

    Posted by: johnny | Nov 17, 2009 3:30:59 PM

  10. What marvelous lives some people lead. I'm envious. Thanks for sharing that incredible encounter.

    Posted by: Akrontru | Nov 17, 2009 3:41:15 PM

  11. Great Story.....but.... has been all over the internet and posted often.

    Nothing else new, current and relevant to post? Geez.........



    Posted by: BDC | Nov 17, 2009 4:29:09 PM

  12. i'm always fascinated by posters here bitching about your content. i'm online abou 16 hours a day, and i haven't seen this vid or read the short article. just like the story the other day about prince Harry, why do people expect every single item on this blog to be about the bitter world that hates us and wants to see us dead? yes, i'm a gay activist, but i also have a million other interests. pieces like this remind us of the larger picture. humans are not alone in this world. i have no problem with learning about other things besides gay activism in this blog. this piece reinforces my idea that all creatures and plants and rocks and the Earth itself deserve our utmost respect and protection as best we can. if you can't relate that to our gay struggle and our gay lives, i feel sorry for you.

    thanks, andy for posting many genres of news here.

    RESPECT THIS WORLD IN ALL OF ITS FORMS. that's what i take away.

    Posted by: casey | Nov 17, 2009 4:56:25 PM

  13. My grandma seems to have been reincarnated as a leopard seal.

    Posted by: bunker | Nov 17, 2009 5:44:43 PM

  14. That thing had nasty teeth! Thanks for posting all these cool science-nature related content Andy.

    Posted by: jaragon | Nov 17, 2009 6:09:20 PM

  15. Keep posting science-related content, Andy. I had not seen this video or heard about this story until reading about it on your blog. Fascinating. That's what I love about your site, Andy; you occasionally post content that touches on non-gay subjects like astronomy and wildlife. Keep up the great work.

    Posted by: Brandon | Nov 17, 2009 7:05:57 PM

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