Photographing Leopard Seals
Please remember that no photograph is worth harassing or disturbing any animal for.
Always follow the safety guidelines when photographing leopard seals.
What type of photographs are useful to researchers?
Photos of leopard seals help us to identify and track individuals. In order to catalogue individual animals, we need to ensure we have as many angles as possible of each seal. This is so we can match unique pelage (fur) patterns on each individual.
The minimum requirements to identify an individual leopard seal are photographs of the left and right sides of the face and body, and also the underside of its belly. However, if it is not safe to photograph one of the angles don’t worry, it’s best not to disturb the seal.
How to take great photos safely?
We all enjoy viewing and photographing leopard seals and other wildlife and we understand wanting to get the perfect shot. However, it is so important to respect the wildlife being photographed and no photograph is worth harassing or disturbing any animal for. Below are some tips on how to get the best photos of leopard seals without disturbing them.
Don’t forget we would love to see any photos you take of leopard seals as they may help our research and could also help with education and advocacy.
Please see the ‘Report a Leopard Seal‘ page for details, including a release form.
1. Be Patient
Leopard seals come to land to rest and so spend most of their time hauled out sleeping and not moving. If you sit quietly and wait, a resting leopard seal will periodically lift its head to survey its surroundings, yawn or roll around and stretch. These are great opportunities to get photographs.
If you wait long enough you may witness the seal waking up to return to the sea. The photographs taken by LeopardSeal.org team members are the result of, literally, hundreds of hours of watching leopard seals.
2. Use a zoom lens (or zoom on your phone)
Remember, you should not approach closer than 20 metres. Using a zoom on your phone or camera is the safest way to get a close up photograph of a leopard seal.