We are very thrilled to give another fantastic preview of a feature story by the highly inspiring online platform Jungles in Paris. This story focusses on the environment of the Weddell seals and is an outtake of the beautiful book The Last Ocean by photographer John Weller. Weddell seals live in Antarctica, and unlike other large animals there, like for instance whales, other seals, or penguins, they don’t migrate North during the winter. No other mammal on earth lives this far south. They have extraordinary diving abilities, can go as far as 700 meters below the ice in their search for fish, and stay underwater for as long as an hour.
The Ross Sea, where these images were taken, is considered the last pristine marine environment on earth. As fishing operations spread south, this status is increasingly in jeopardy. Jungles in Paris was drawn to the otherworldly beauty of these images. Although it is a dark world under the waters, the light does amazing things on the submerged ice. And the seals, which seem so clumsy and blubbery on land, transform into elegant, almost dancer-like creatures in the water.
Due to its remoteness and harsh weather, the Ross Sea remained free from human interference until 1996, when commercial fishing discovered it. Now that fishery removes 3,000 tons of fish annually, threatening to destroy the world’s last intact ecosystem. The Last Ocean organization started in 2004, joining scientists and environmental groups in a campaign to have the entire Ross Sea designated as an international marine protected area. John Weller is one of the founding members of The Last Ocean. The book The Last Ocean consists of photographs taken during four trips to the Antarctic, including a four-month stay at McMurdo and Cape Royds, which is the home of the southernmost penguin colony in the world.