How could you resist a cute harbor seal looking at you from a kelp forest off the California coast? The judges for the 2013 Underwater Photography Contest clearly couldn’t: They chose Kyle McBurnie’s picture of a soulful seal as the competition’s top image.
McBurnie, the 22-year-old co-founder of SD Expeditions, said he snapped the picture during a dive at Cortes Bank near San Diego. “Five or 10 harbor seals just came out and played with me for a while,” he recalled. “One of them came up and bit me on the fin.”
The seal in the picture had a haunting look on its face as it watched a sea lion pass nearby, and that’s the look that McBurnie captured with his camera. “It gave me a ghostly, emotional feel,” he told NBC News.