It's no wonder Qualicum Beach based Instagram account @Sea_Legacy has garnered 285,000 followers in a little less than a year and a half since launching: Sea Legacy is a non-profit with the goal of raising awareness around issues affecting the earth's oceans, in large part by showcasing beautiful photos of them. In their words, "The three top values guiding our organization are conservation, innovation, and photographic excellence". They partner with scientists, conservation orgs and others (such as National Geographic) to get out into the natural world and capture wonderful photos of all that's worth saving, and they intend to go on 50 expeditions over the next 10 years. Headed up by celebrated photographers Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen, it's clear to see that they're already succeeding in their goal.
Here are 25 of their most stunning photos. We suggest you give @Sea_Legacy a follow so you don't miss any in the future.
Thursday’s predator is the leopard seal. These ‘sea leopards’ inhabit the icy waters of Antarctica, feeding on krill, fish and penguins while hunting among the pack ice. @paulnicklen has spent extensive time underwater interacting with these animals, documenting and photographing behaviors in which a large female leopard seal tries to feed the National Geographic photographer penguins. We often forget that top predators are individuals, humans included. Each individual should be respected, and it is through that respect that we gain an understanding and appreciation for the beauty of their unique nature. Image by @paulnicklen ?#?onassignment? for National Geographic in #Antarctica. #respectpredators #predatorweek #leopardseal #sea #leopard #natureisspeaking #nature #ice #underwater #photography #beauty #wildlife #ocean
Photo by @paulnicklen for @natgeo. I love being a “fly on the wall” when it comes to wildlife photography. This spirit bear had no clue that I was sitting across from him on a river in the Great Bear Rainforest of #BritishColumbia. When the bear got to the bottom of this log, he did a long leg stretch. It must have felt really good! To see more pictures of this spectacular bear and to learn more about what they are threatened by and how to help #followme @paulnicklen and vistit sealegacy.org With @sealegacy @crand @pacificwild. #bear #bc #lifeexperience #202020 #wildlife #animal #gratitude #explore #nature #smile #love # beautyiful #adventure #travel #instagood #tbt #follow #photooftheday #happy #tagforlikes #like #picoftheday
Over the course of the last month our co- founders @paulnicklen & @cristinamittermeier have been exploring the Falkland Islands #onassignment for @natgeo. The trip produced some truly inspiring images, highlighting the immense diversity among the species and celebrating the importance of protected wildlife areas. Tag your friends below and get them to join us in our journey to get 20% of our ocean protected by 2020!
Photo by @paulnicklen with @cristinamittermeier // Lion's Mane jellyfish near God's Pocket resort in British Columbia. As beautiful as this jellyfish may be, soon it will not be a rare sighting. Jellyfish reproducing far quicker than they are dying off, overtaking many other aquatic species. There are a few factors that play into this jellyfish takeover. First off, they have hardly any predators. Additionally, the predators they do have (such as salmon, sea turtles, albatross, etc.) are becoming increasingly scarce. On top of this, jellyfish can eat up to 10x it's own body weight per day, effectively annihilating almost everything in it's path. Jellyfish are also incredible at proliferating, creating colonies of clones that attach to hard surfaces. While those colonies are waiting to release the jellyfish, they clone themselves again and again. Last but certainly not least, jellyfish are pretty hard to kill. Ironically, cutting some species open actually creates many more jellyfish. Therefore, lookout for these guys whenever you're on the ocean in coming years, as you may have some extra company.
Photograph by @paulnicklen with @cristinamittermeier // This is what a baby harp seal looks like after drinking several pounds of some of the richest milk in the world. They usually looked like they were about to burst after a long nursing session. They need the milk which nearly immediately turns into fat as they will take to the icy waters just two weeks after being born into this harsh environment.
Photo by @paulnicklen with @cristinamittermeier // Emperor penguins release millions of micro bubbles from their feathers to lubricate their bodies against the friction of the cold Antarctic waters. This reduction of friction allows them to double or even triple their speeds to avoid leopard seal predation
Photo and caption by @cristinamittermeier with @paulnicklen // Arriving from the vastness of the open ocean, they swim in mighty pulses as they make their way upstream. Chum salmon swim over a thousand miles from the Bering Sea to the cold waters of the Ni'iinlii Njik, or Fishing Branch River in the Yukon Territory. They come for the river's cold water, where they spawn and die, and where every fall, hundreds of grizzly bears their arrival to the feast. In this bear Haven near the Arctic Circle, grizzlies roam free and safe from hunters. This 2500-square-mile ecological reserve is a sacred place for the Vuntut Gwitchin indigenous community. They worked closely with the Yukon government to establish the reserve, which in addition to being the home of gray wolves, lynx, wolverine, caribou, bald eagles, and moose, it is home to a significant population of grizzly bears. This young grizzly lunges after a salmon in the shallow waters.
Photo by @paulnicklen with @cristinamittermeier // This weeks #selfiesunday ; a baby fur seal looks suspiciously at Paul on South Georgia Island in Antarctica. After almost being hunted to extinction in the 1700-1800s, fur seals have made a remarkable come back and are abundant and thriving. #selfie #cute #nofilter #nomakeup #thinblueline #202020
Photo by @paulnicklen with @cristinamittermeier // "After spending weeks of camping on the sea ice, I finally took off in my ultralight airplane with my friend and ace pilot, Brian Knutsen. We expected to see a few Narwhals from the air, but never did I expect to find a large group of male Narwhal surrounded by the most stunning pattern and shapes in the sea ice." Head on over to @conservationorg to see Paul and Cristina's takeover of their Instagram this week to help kick-off the exciting #INeedNature campaign!
It was a "Rain Wolf" summer for @paulnicklen and I as we worked on an assignment for @natgeo on the fascinating lives of these apex predators. I know that these two adorable pups don’t look very fierce, but as they get older they will become incredibly efficient predators and they will help turn the complex ecological gears that allow a healthy rainforest to exist . We are working with @pacificwild to make sure these highly intelligent, social animals have the freedom to roam and fulfill their role as apex predators. Learn more here: http://pacificwild.org/initiatives/land/save-bc-wolves. #GreatBearRainforest #nature #beauty #love #cute #adventure #explore @natgeovreative #journeyneverstops #sonycamera #sonyalpha #wolfpack #savebcwolves
A tiny crab? A small snail? Who knows what captures the imagination of a young child. The ocean is full of mysteries waiting for curious minds to come unravel them, but that will only be possible if we act now to protect it. Photo by @cristinamittermeier with @paulnicklen #onassignment for @natgeo and @sea_legacy in Hawaii. #coastalpeople #makaha #beauty