Penguins? What penguins?
Seals can be so slippery, but this particularly extroverted elephant seal was simply greedy for his 15 minutes of fame when he jumped into the frame of photographers staked out at the UK’s Saint Andrew’s Bay to capture the royal penguins the remote island is known for.
The seal must have known this was his chance to steal the show from the crowd of black-and-white penguins when he jumped out from behind a dune, and engaged in a game of pop-up for the assembled photogs, disappearing and re-appearing several times.
The camera-happy seal delivered his own brand of a model pose, appearing with mouth wide open, back ram-rod straight and apparently oblivious to the shoot’s real subjects, the hundreds of penguins milling around him.
The seal’s home of Saint Andrew’s Bay is a remote sub-Antarctic island near the Falkland Islands whose location makes it not-your-average tourist destination.
It may be, then, that this elephant seal, which can weigh as much as 6,600 pounds, was just happy, or curious, to see humans like Michel Watson, the French photographer who captured the seal’s photo-bombing escapades.
“I was about to take a picture of the penguins when suddenly from the other side of the dune appeared a young elephant seal,” Watson, on a cruise through Antarctica with his wife and other photographers, told the UK’s Daily Mail.
“It stood for about six seconds just staring at us before going back down and disappearing,” he said. “A few seconds later he was standing again and he did this at least 15 times. The whole thing was very bizarre and lasted a good five minutes.”
Whatever the seal’s motivations, whether fame-hungry or just curious, his scene-stealing hi-jinks worked.
“Soon everyone was trying to get the timing right to get good pictures of the seal rather than the penguins,” Watson said. “Each time he looked more and more surprised to see us there because I don’t think he was used to seeing humans…It was such a funny moment.”