Swim gym

Laurent Ballesta's Image

‘We were still a few metres from the surface, when I heard strange noises,’ explains Laurent. Curious, he approached slowly and was rewarded with the glorious sight of two Weddell seals – a mother and her newborn pup. ‘They looked so at ease, where I felt so inappropriate.’

Weddell seals give birth on ice and take their offspring for their first frosty swim a few weeks later. Eventually, the pups will grow up to be accomplished divers with excellent underwater vision. After familiarising themselves with their watery surroundings, adult seals can reach depths of 600 metres, staying submerged for up to 80 minutes.

Behind the lens

Laurent Ballesta

Laurent Ballesta


Laurent has authored 13 photography books on underwater wildlife. As co-founder of Andromède Océanologie he has been leading major expeditions for 10 years. He illustrates the underwater world as a naturalist and artist, whether through the first pictures of a coelacanth taken by a diver at 120 metres deep, 700 sharks of Fakarava hunting at night, or the deepest and longest dive in Antarctica.

Image details

  • Nikon D4S
  • 17–35mm f2.8 lens
  • 1/640 sec at f11  •   ISO 200
  • Îlot de la Dent, Terre Adélie, Antarctica
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