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on Mar 16, 2009 in Wildlife Photography

Hawaiian Monk Seal

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We had an incredibly special treat at one of our morning shoots last week at our HI DLWS. At the very end of the beach, the area is closed off for the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal. The females haul out there. We gave the closed area a wide berth (the Caribbean Monk Seal was declared extinct).

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I happen to look down and saw Laurie & Carol sneaking up on a rock, they didn’t say anything to us, just looked back at the rock and stalked it. It’s then I noticed the back side of the rock grow a lump and the lump moved.  That caught my attention so I walked up and around them to see what it was I was seeing and they were stalking. A HMS had come ashore right there for a nap (around the bend and a few hundred yards away from the closed area).

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I waited for Laurie to finish her shots and say it was OK for me to approach. In the meantime, I framed up the shot in my head, attached the 14-24AFS and waited. When Laurie gave me the word, I walked up a couple of steps and then got down on my belly. I slowly elbowed up until I got about 3-4′ from the seal (it’s about 3′ long) and started to shoot. I really wanted to have a flash to better isolate the gray seal from the gray background, but I didn’t have one with me (stupid photographer).

The seal wiggled one way, then another, coming closer then moving away. It seemed to be playing with the surf, getting the sand watched off its back. The rainbow in the background I could have done without, seems too corny for me but that’s what it was. Then when there were a few more people around on the beach behind me, the seal wiggled right next to me and then past me and up to those folks. I ended up with a rear end shot so I waited, slithered the other direction, got up and just watched the show. It was one of those really cool interactions with wildlife that makes me so happy to be a wildlife photographer.

Photos captured by D3x, 14-24AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film