The pinnipeds are the seals, sealions and walrus. Marine mammals, like whales but they still haul out of the water to breed (mostly), give birth and rest.
There is huge diversity in the 34 species, the largest being the massive Southern elephant seal, found around South Georgia and the Antarctic.
Most of my seal images have been taken off Antarctica where they have lost their fear of humans and allow slow, but pretty close encounters. Of course I am using a large zoom lens for my images even so.
Many species were hunted relentlessly for their oil and pelts, but have recovered in Antarctica and the surrounding area to very high numbers, probably filling the niche where some of the great whales used to be. Most species there also feed on krill, like the great whales.
The species seen here are the predatory leopard seal and the crabeater and weddell seals, Antarctic fur seal and Southern elephant seal, all taken off the Antarctic peninsula or on South Georgia.
One of the greatest experiences on South Georgia is to sit quietly near some ‘weaners’ as the young elephant seals are known. Their mothers leave them after only a short time on land. The young tend to lie about waiting for anyone or anything that looks like Mum that might have food. Eventually hunger forces them to go to sea, but their huge, sad looking eyes stare at you hoping you will feed them and they have no fear of us. Eventually the males will become massive five-metre long giants, belching and fighting during the breeding season. They have more testosterone than any other animal plumping through them at this time. What a change from the cute days!