One of the big highlights of our time at South Georgia has been our numerous encounters with Leopard Seals. Not expecting there to be quite so many it has been a privilage to get up so close to these incredible creatures that have been given an unwarranted reputation as fearsome killers. The fact is that problems between humans and Leopard Seals are extremely rare and their reputation stems mainly from the fact that they hunt, kill and eat penguins in large quantities.
We have seen them frequently around the boat, they have followed the dinghy as we have made our way on shore and on one occassion when Terje and Alan were setting two stern lines ashore one very large female appeared just a couple of feet from the dinghy with Terje and Alan blissfully unaware that she was watching their every move; a situation that Bob and I found amusing!
This one seal found the shore lines interesting, trying to bite the rope and resting its head in the line only to be shocked when the boat moved and the line tightened.
We have walked within a few metres of them when they have been sleeping on the beach after a hefty meal and Alan got within a couple of feet of one to take a photo of a tag number that had been fitted by the scientists here.
We have heard them at night under the boat singing the most incredible tunes, some times growling, some times trilling, a wide range of sounds reverberating through the hull.
But probably the most memorable was an encounter with another large female who appeared as we dropped the dinghy overboard in Possession Bay, diving under the dinghy as we stepped down, appearing high out of the water just a few feet from the side of the rubber tubes (they are known to bite and burst them) and then following us all the way into the drop off point only feet away from the dinghy and then back to the boat with Alan.