Monday Reads: The Friendly Edition

An unusual encounter between leopard seal and photographer

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Cats have been known to bring their human companions gifts of all sorts. Curiously surprised humans have found themselves proudly offered such choice items as mice, birds, and squirrels—presents that arrive very much dead, very much alive, and in all states between.

Photographer Paul Nicklen found himself in just this situation on a recent expedition to Antarctica. There aren’t many house cats on the icy continent, but there are plenty of leopard seals—and small penguins who look particularly tasty to them.

In this video, Nicklen recounts an incredible story of a female leopard seal who defies her species’ reputation as a deadly predator, instead gamely trying her best to take care of and feed him. With penguins. For four days.

An apex predator (sitting at the top of their food chain), leopard seals are a fount of interesting facts, including:

  • Leopard seals’ jaws can open more than 160 degrees (amply documented in Nicklen’s video).
  • Leopard seals’ multi-lobed teeth allow them to sieve krill directly from the sea water.
  • Leopard seals are the only seals who feed on warm-blooded prey.

Faithful Earthjusticers may already be familiar with Nicklen’s work without even realizing it; he was one of several nature photographers who generously shared their work as part of the Irreplaceable: Wildlife in a Warming World campaign, bringing us stunning images of arctic foxes, narwhals, and more.

Nicklen’s photography highlights the beauty—and fragility—of the Antarctic and Arctic worlds. (Head over to Trip’s column for an update from Earthjustice on the Arctic.) Next month, Earthjustice will begin featuring amazing new images of the Arctic from photographer Florian Schulz. Join us on Facebook, or subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter e.Brief to find out when and where these photos will premiere.

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Shirley undertakes sous chef duties on Earthjustice’s website, serving up interactive online features for our advocacy campaign and litigation work.