A special underwater camera captures a rare encounter between a graceful leopard seal and several kayakers.

Knowing that a leopard seal has jaws larger than a grizzly enhances the tension in this clip. In 2006, National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen was on assignment in Antarctica when he first watched a leopard seal tear apart a penguin and eat its meat. When he went into the water to get a better shot, the seal took his camera and head into her mouth!

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But Nicklen learned that leopard seals have a softer side. The seal let him free, and then went on to offer him penguins and guard him from other seals for the rest of his four-day trip.

The fate of the kayaker at the end of this video is left to the imagination.

Despite their beauty and complexity, hunters continue targeting seals for their pelts and meat. Though harp seals are the primary targets, perhaps this video and Nicklen’s story will show that these majestic animals deserve more respect.

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