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


Coming from the coastal region of Montpellier in France, Laurent discovered the sea at an early age. While studying benthic ecology at university he discovered a new species of fish in the Mediterranean. He has published portfolios in many international magazines and appears on the French television show Ushuaïa Nature as a scientific advisor in marine environment.

Image details

  • Nikon D4S
  • 17–35mm f2.8 lens
  • 1/640 sec at f11  •   ISO 200
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