Photographer squashed by affectionate baby seal

Posted on 2 June 2019

A wildlife photographer recently won the hearts of a baby elephant seal and the online community. Jess Bray, wife of Australian Geographic photographer Chris Bray, was trying to get a snap of penguins in Antarctica.

The couple was on a photographic tour to South Georgia, a British territory island in the Antarctic region. Jess got down low on the ice, intent on snapping shots of the king penguins from a lower angle. She had some unexpected visitors, however, who nuzzled her and showed affection in a rather odd way – a baby elephant seal rolled over to her, and rolled some more – right on top of her back.

Still clutching her camera, Bray’s bewilderment and hysterics are visible in a video her husband filmed of the scene, which he submitted to an online viral video platform called ViralHog.

‘My wife and I are wildlife photographers,’ Chris Bray told the website. ‘Ten years ago, we started [a] photo tour company, taking small groups of enthusiast [sic] photographers to the most amazing wildlife experiences in the world including Kenya, the Galapagos, Amazon, Patagonia, Iceland, Greenland, Christmas Island and Alaska among others. Last summer, we ran our first photo tour to Antarctica and South Georgia, which was amazing.

‘It was while we were ashore in South Georgia on this huge gravel beach filled with king penguins and elephant seals, that Jess laid down on the ground to get some cool low-angle shots of some passing king penguins, when suddenly one of these huge baby elephant seals flopped over to investigate Jess, and was soon joined by another. Before she knew it, she was being squashed by several of these 100-kilogramme adorable animals, snuffling, burping and sniffing all over her.’

Chris’s response to his wife’s seal ambush is rather funny as he continues to simply keep filming her, asking her to look at the camera. Jokes aside, Jess and Chris Bray remind us of the potential perils of being a wildlife photographer. We’re relieved it was a baby elephant seal and not an adult, or even an actual elephant, who befriended Jess.

‘The hazards of being a wildlife photographer!’ Chris remarked. ‘The same thing happened to me and a few of our photo tour guests. A totally unforgettable experience! You’re not allowed to go too close to the wildlife of course, but it’s a different story when they come up to you! Eventually Jess managed to extract herself from underneath these guys and escape.’

Image: Chris Bray via Viral Hog.

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