It was the most incredible experience I’ve ever had as a National Geographic photographer.
So, here I came to Antarctica, to photograph this potentially vicious animal, to have this predator, this top predator in Antarctica, take care of me, and nurture me, and feed me for four days straight.
She started to take penguins and actually push them into my, camera. I think she thought the camera was my mouth, which is every photographer’s dream. This went on for four days.
She started to bring me weak penguins, then dead penguins, then she showed me how to eat penguins. She would offer me partially consumed penguins.
And then I think she realized that I was this useless predator in her ocean, probably going to starve to death and I think she became quite panicked…
She kept letting these live penguins go and the penguin would shoot past me and she’d look disgusted as she’d go by me. She did this over and over…
She went off and got me a live penguin, and she came up and started to feed me a penguin.
She took my whole head and my camera inside her mouth and did this threat, displays… But then the most amazing thing happened..
And 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. Just huge.
This is what happened when a photographer came face-to-face with one of Antarctica’s most vicious predators.
I slipped into the water, terrified of what might happen, and I swam up to this leopard seal…My legs were shaking, I had dry mouth…