portrait of a harbor seal

portrait of a harbor seal-blogMost people who like dogs also like seals and sea lions, the fish eating dogs of the sea. (Corgis: We like fish!)  I took this portrait of a harbor seal at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, during a demonstration of “operant conditioning”, which is the fancy biology term the zoo uses for teaching its seals various “behaviors” that make them easier to keep and handle.  In other words, the seal keepers are training the recall and the sit and down stay, and tricks like fetch, roll over, and speak, which allows the vets to check the seals’ mouths.  Hmm. This demonstration looks pretty familiar.  The seals are rewarded with herring, mackerel and trout, and on special occasions with squid and jello.  (Corgis: We like fish! And squid! And jello!)

Not only is this demonstration informative, and amusing if you have dogs at home, but it gets the seals to move around close to where the crowd is standing which makes them easier to photograph. Of course that doesn’t mean easy– photographing seals usually means photographing water and that’s always a challenge.  (Boring stuff of interest only to photo nerds: K-30 with 50-200mm kit zoom. 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 500, focal length 105mm.)

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