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The leopard seal

The leopard seal seems to stalk the icy seas of Antarctica with what appears to be a fixed, smug smile on its face. Then it opens its mouth, and you see a tooth-ringed maw larger than a grizzly’s.

National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen saw that up close when he slipped into the waters off Antarctica, and had one attempt to eat his camera.

Then it, um, attempted to feed him. Not feed him TO anything, just feed him, period.

It makes more sense if you watch the video below.

That’s sweet. A fantastic moment of bonding between a photographer, and the predator that decided to take him under its flipper.

A really, REALLY lucky photographer, we might add, because on another day, in other circumstances, a leopard seal could have decided to attack him.

That’s what happened to a 28-year-old British scientist in 2003. She was snatched while snorkeling and dragged under. Her frantic colleagues scrambled a boat, and retrieved her, but resuscitation failed and she was pronounced dead.

Investigators said the animal may have mistaken her for food, but it’s also possible it deliberately stalked her, as the seals have been known to do.

In 1985, an explorer in Antarctica was bitten by one and almost dragged off the ice. It was so determined to get him, it took several kicks by his

companions’ spiked boots to dislodge the animal. A similar attack was thwarted as early as Ernest Shackleton’s expedition in 1914-1916.

They apparently like boats too. U.S. researchers in Antarctica have had to modify their zodiacs with protective panels to guard against it.

A good reminder that, just because it kind of looks like a dog, it isn’t one, and you can’t expect it to behave like one.

Pfeffer's flamboyant cuttlefish

This little guy is VERY well named. It does, after all, look like a Christmas ornament put together by a colourblind drunkard.

Aside from those beautiful colours, this cuttlefish is known for a few of its odd habits. Unlike most cuttlefish, the Pfeffer actually seems to prefer plodding along the sea floor.

That seems like an odd place for a bite-sized cephalopod to be. While it is known to be a predator (check out its ambush of a mantis shrimp in the video below), it’s still quite small.

So how does it keep from being prey? Well, one of its very usual features is its intense venom, often compared to that of the blue ringed octopus, which is strong enough to kill a human being. And it’s not delivered by a sting or beak; The poison is in its muscles.

One scientist links the sheer toxicity of the cuttlefish to the way they can just wander around exposed like that with little apparent fear of predators.

But its beautiful colours still make it a favourite for marine photographers, although they have to be wary of getting too close (and it seems they’re hard to get into captivity).

[Thumbnail image source]


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