Leopard Seal
Hydrurga leptonyx
The Leopard Seal (Hydrurga leptonyx) truly earns is nickname of "Sea Leopard". It is the primary predator of penguin species in Antarctica and is also known to take other young seals. It also catches fish and krill. The shot to the right shows a Leopard Seal in the foreground with two Crabeater Seals behind. These seal species may all rest together on the same piece of ice. One of the Crabeaters is yawning and stretching which gives this shot an interesting touch. Note the long, reptile-like head of the Leopard Seal. It totally lacks the "dog-like" face of the other seals. This shot was taken with a Canon EOS 1V and EF 70-200 F/2.8 L IS lens and 2X extender in the Errera Channel in January, 2002.
The closeup of the head of a Leopard Seal on the right was taken from a zodiac near the same location as the previous image.
The next two shots illustrate typical views of a Leopard Seal resting on ice as a small ship passes by. These shots were taken in January, 2002, in the Gerlache Straight, Antarctica.
In January, 2003, I was in a Zodiac at Elephant Island, Antarctica, when a Leopard Seal started following us. To the right is a shot of the seal peering at me from about 6 feet away. I must admit it was quite thrilling to be so close to this large predator. This digital image was taken with a Canon D60 and the same lens as above.
The next three shots were taken at Penola Straight, near Peterman Island, Antarctica, in February, 2005. This Leopard Seal was resting on some ice as we circled him in a Zodiac. These shots were taken with a Canon EOS 1D Mark II and the same 70-200 lens as above.