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This video was filmed on November 15, 2012, as part of the National Geographic Live! Lecture series at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.


National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen uses his camera to reveal the graceful and feared leopard seal, a species threatened by climate change. "I call myself an interpreter and a translator," says Nicklen. "I translate what the scientists are telling me. If we lose ice, we stand to lose an entire ecosystem. I hope we can realize through my photography how interconnected these species are to ice. It just takes one image to get someone's attention."

Whether he is ice diving among leopard seals in Antarctica, covering hundreds of miles of terrain in minus 40°F temperatures, or mastering aerial shots from his ultralight plane, Paul Nicklen has specialized in photographing polar regions since 1995.

  • A species with a bad reputation: why leopard seals are perceived as vicious (start-1:40 min.)
  • Getting in the water with a 12-foot seal (1:41-3:38 min.)
  • An amazing experience: a leopard seal tries to feed Nicklen a penguin (3:39-6:57 min.)

Strategies for Using Video in a Variety of Learning Environments

  • Have students preview several of the videos and choose the one they find most inspiring. Have students describe in writing a conversation they might have with the speaker(s).
  • Freeze the video on a relevant image. Have students observe details in the still image and jot down predictions of what the full video might address. Discuss students’ ideas before and after watching the video.
  • Pose an open-ended question before students watch the video, and have them discuss their ideas before and after in small groups.
  • Have students determine what they think the key message of this video is. Was the speaker effective in getting his or her message across?
  • Show a short clip to engage students during class, and then have students watch the full video at home and write a paragraph responding to the content or a question you give them.
  • Have students note statements that represent facts or opinions, including where it’s difficult to tell the difference. What further research might help distinguish facts vs. opinions? How might the speaker’s viewpoint compare with others’ viewpoints about a topic?

Earth's fifth-largest continental landmass.


water in its solid form.

leopard seal

carnivorous marine mammal native to the Antarctic.


bird native to the Antarctic.


animal that hunts other animals for food.