A group of kayakers were in for an adorable surprise when the noticed they had an unexpected companion on a recent excursion.
In footage captured with a water-resistant camera, a leopard seal hugs a kayak and hangs onto the bottom of the rig as paddlers explore the waters around Pleneau Island on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Cameraman Paul Scriver, who posted the video Friday on Vimeo, explained that the seal "found us and started being quite inquisitive."
"He mostly swam around the kayaks and we would loose him when he was underwater," Scriver went on to write, "but then he started to become quite playful and did the exact thing shown in this video a few times before I calmed down enough to actually try to film him with my GoPro."
According to Australian website 9News, Scriver works as a guide for cruise line One Ocean Expeditions and leads kayaking trips off the coast of the Antarctic. He captured the outgoing animal's adventure during an outing in March, noting that it was obvious the leopard seal was playing. Scriver also added that the seal acted cautiously around the group.
"He was being quite careful too I think, not to rock the kayaks too much, which was interesting," Scriver told 9News.
Named for their spotted coats, leopard seals are natives of Antarctica, where they prey primarily on penguins. However, seals are known to be friendlier to humans. In 2010, photographer Paul Nicklen retold the story of his encounter with the predator, describing how a female leopard seal tried to feed him penguins.
Because of its relatively large population, the leopard seal is currently classified as a species of least concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
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