Diving with the leopard

by Kelvin Murray Expert story

I found myself eyeball to huge, black eyeball with this mighty seal - it hung in the water, slowly twisting and gazing at me, that huge crooked mouth ‘smiling.’
Antarctic Peninsula
​Many people ask me what is it like to roll off the boat into zero-degree water - Does your face freeze? Yes, but you quickly get used to it. Is the equipment heavy? Yes, but I’m ‘weightless’ in the water. Is there anything to see? Yes, lots… I tell them about sponges, corals, seastars, cucumbers, snails, fish, giant isopods, sea-spiders, penguins, icebergs…and the Leopard seals. With a head three times the size of our own equipped with large canine and tricuspid teeth, powered by 1000 pounds of muscle and flesh in a twelve-foot long frame, this is a creature to admire and respect. I remember one particularly impressive seal. It swam around and amongst us, manoeuvring with precise grace using its long foreflippers. Straight away it began to gape at the various cameras, flashing teeth to flashing strobes. I found myself eyeball to huge, black eyeball with this mighty seal - it hung in the water, slowly twisting and gazing at me, that huge crooked mouth ‘smiling.’ Later in the day we returned and watched with macabre enthusiasm as the seal chased down and dismembered a penguin, with our snorkelers mere feet away.
Diving with the Leopard
Diving with the Leopard
This was a very special encounter. There are few places in the world where you can get so close to an apex carnivore while it stalks, hunts, kills and eats. Iconic top predators such Leopard seals and Polar bears are under intense pressure, mostly due to some kind of human impact and it is a privilege to see them in their natural environment through responsible tourism.

Love this article? Share your appreciation:

Related cruises

Cool Deal
Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica
Up to 3150 USD discount

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica

Meet at least six penguin species!

HDS21-19. A cruise to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia & the Antarctic Peninsula. Visit some of the most beautiful arrays of wildlife on Earth. This journey will introduce you to at least 6 species of penguin and a whole lot of Antarctic fur seals! Including photography workshops with Neill Drake and video...

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius

Cruise date:

3 Nov - 23 Nov, 2019

Price:

15700 USD 12550 USD 3150 USD discount

Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin incl. helicopters
Up to 1600 USD discount

Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin incl. helicopters

Searching for the Elusive Emperor Penguins

OTL22-19. A true expedition, our Weddell Sea cruise sets out to explore the range of the Emperor Penguins near Snow Hill Island. We will visit the area via helicopter and see a variety of other birds and penguins including Adélies and Gentoos.

m/v Ortelius

m/v Ortelius

Cruise date:

14 Nov - 24 Nov, 2019

Price:

12950 USD 11350 USD 1600 USD discount

Antarctic Peninsula – Polar Circle, Deep South Discovery and whale watching voyage
Up to 1900 USD discount

Antarctic Peninsula – Polar Circle, Deep South Discovery and whale watching voyage

Whale watching voyage

OTL33-19. This Polar Circle and Antarctic Peninsula cruise will take you further south of Antarctica, crossing the Polar Circe. This expedition cruise passes through waters travelled by Humpback, Minke and Fin whales. Anchoring in various spots around the region, the expedition offers the chance to hike, and...

m/v Ortelius

m/v Ortelius

Cruise date:

18 Mar - 31 Mar, 2019

Price:

on request

Antarctic Peninsula - Whale Watching Voyage
Up to 1150 USD discount

Antarctic Peninsula - Whale Watching Voyage

In search for the giants of the seas

PLA31-19. The 'Classic Antarctic' route. This cruise delivers you to wondrous landscapes found in one of the harshest environments on Earth. The great star-actors of Antarctica are the penguins and in total seven species could appear before your very own eyes.

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Cruise date:

22 Mar - 31 Mar, 2019

Price:

on request

Antarctica - Basecamp

The best activity voyage in Antarctica

OTL21-19. The Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp cruise offers you a myriad of ways to explore and enjoy the Antarctic Region. This expedition allows you to hike, snowshoe, kayak, go mountaineering, and even camp out under the Southern Polar skies.

m/v Ortelius

m/v Ortelius

Cruise date:

3 Nov - 14 Nov, 2019

Price:

7950 USD