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  • December 30, 2014

Pictures We Love: Enchanting Encounters With a Harp Seal

Author
Proof Staff

At National Geographic, photography is what holds our stories together and what makes them shine. It’s what we do the best and love the most. Our photo editors work with thousands of images every year (if not every day) and so we asked each of them—editors from National Geographic Magazine, News, Traveler, Your Shot, and Proof—to share one picture that stood out for them in 2014. We didn’t ask them to talk about the “best” photo, but the one that resonated with them the most. Over the coming days, we’ll bring you their personal reflections and share the heart of what we’ve been up to this year.

Born on the ice, a harp seal pup peers underwater near Quebec’s Madeleine Islands.
Born on the ice, a harp seal pup peers underwater near Quebec’s Madeleine Islands.
The Generous Gulf,” May 2014
Photograph by David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes
Kathy Moran, Senior Editor, Natural History, National Geographic Magazine

Most images of harp seal pups are taken while they are on the ice—a period of great vulnerability. It’s only a matter of days till this young pup will gain weight, lose its white coat, and enter the world of water it is contemplating in this photograph. I like this photograph for just that reason. It shows the pup suspended between two worlds—the world of ice it now knows; and the world of water it will soon inhabit.

Largely confined to a platform of ice, a newborn harp seal begins to shed its white coat after two weeks, about the time its mother leaves. Photographer Jennifer Hayes documented bonding between mother and pup, behavior rarely photographed in the water.
Largely confined to a platform of ice, a newborn harp seal begins to shed its white coat after two weeks, about the time its mother leaves. Photographer Jennifer Hayes documented bonding between mother and pup, behavior rarely photographed in the water.
The Generous Gulf,” May 2014
Photograph by David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes
Alexa Keefe, Photography Producer, Proof

There is something about this photograph by Jennifer Hayes of a mother seal coaxing her pup into the water that is very touching—and familiar. It is a sweet, everyday moment. Assigning animals with human characteristics is an easy thing to do. When we see behavior that actually is the same, it reinforces how connected we all are as living creatures.

Hayes wrote a post for Proof about another encounter during the shoot that takes this connection to another level. Photographing in the water with the mother and pup, Hayes was attacked by a male harp seal. The mother seal came her defense, propelling Hayes and the pup away from the males. Reading Hayes’ account, I could feel the mix of exhilaration and the terror of being in the wild, equally close to moments of tenderness and savagery.

*****
Browse more of our favorite images from 2014 in these related “Pictures We Love” posts:

There are 9 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. susan hope
    January 20, 2015

    the first picture resonates very deeply in my mind due to the simple fact that the pup is between two worlds. It’s a beautiful moment that is rarely captured.

  2. rajesh kumar sahoo
    January 15, 2015

    Its site is very use full to us

  3. Emma
    January 9, 2015

    I love the 2nd picture because it has lots of detail and it is confusing in a good way because the blue i don’t know what it is and the seal is popping out of the ice. it is cute.

  4. Emma
    January 9, 2015

    i like this picture because seals are cute and i love seeing the ocean withs the seal

  5. Larkin
    January 7, 2015

    The photographs are amazing alone, in capturing the moment and quality. Then you add the captions…wow. Adding the photographer’s experience of being protected by the mother, and I am awestruck. Totally profound!

  6. mikwa seda
    January 5, 2015

    Those photos are so wonderful, you guys are doing a great job. Keep it up.

  7. Lazouzi ahmed
    January 2, 2015

    Jaime

  8. Sofia
    January 2, 2015

    It’s the cutest thing ever is the baby kissing the dad or mom

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