Living in Alberta, I do not get to photograph seals very often. When I spent a couple of days in the Khutzeymateen, Harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) were often nearby and I was really taken by their curiosity and the challenge of getting good images of them. Some seals I’ve been around will lounge close-by but not do too much. These ones were wary but it seemed like their interest in seeing who was about and what we were up to drew them in. When I say nearby usually that meant no closer than a hundred metres or so – long lenses were quite handy here.
The challenge came that the seals in the inlet would usually pop their heads out for a second and then submerge again only to resurface in a different spot. While waiting for bears, it became a game trying to anticipate where these creatures would come up next. Usually, I would see them a long ways off and then they would go under and come up a few seconds later much further away.
A notable exception to this behaviour was when they would float upside down at the surface!
It was a strange sight and I was glad that our captain had an explanation for this behaviour: they watch the fish from the high vantage point. Remaining pretty motionless, the fish come pretty close and the seals can then lunge after them. It would be incredible to be underwater and photograph that action. Maybe next year!
When I returned to Prince Rupert I was eating lunch on the deck of a restaurant, Breakers Pub (great food and friendly staff), when a couple of seals swam into the marina. The deck is perched on the rocks above the marina so I had a great view of them swimming around. It was the first time that trip that I was able to see and photograph their entire body. The light was a bit harsh but a polarizer cut the reflection off the water. I was told by our waitress that these three seals had been frequent visitors to the marina for a couple of months so they didn’t duck and surface like their cousins in the Khutzeymateen.