These breathtaking images were captured by an underwater photographer as he was mobbed by sea lions as they seemingly clambered to have their picture taken.
The curious creatures playfully surrounded Brit snapper Steve Woods after he plunged into the sea off the coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.
The powerful mammals can be seen just inches away from the camera – with some of them even exposing their teeth looking like they are about to attack.
But 35-year-old Steve said the animals were just playing with him in “much the same way a puppy mouths a shoe or hand”.
Other incredible photographs captured by marine conservationist Steve show the inquisitive sea lions appearing to pose for their picture.
The Steller and Californian Sea Lions migrate to the area each year along with Orcas and humpback whales to wait to feast on large shoals of herring.
Steve, who is originally from Birmingham but now lives in Norway, said: “The images were taken on an initial recesses of the waters of British Columbia in Canada.
“The sea lions – some Stellars Sea Lions and some Californian Sea Lions – migrate to this area and await the influx of herring around February and March.
“Around this time there are also large numbers of Orca and humpback whales competing for the food.
“Although the sea lions look dangerous and aggressive, they are actually incredibly careful and only seek out human interaction as play and general interest.
“Much like a puppy dog will mouth a shoe or a hand, the sea lions just want to see what you are and to play with you.
“This does however, leave you with your heart racing as they are one of the seas most effective predators and can weigh up to 1.25 tonnes.
During the dive, we were using dry suits as the water is around 7C and we were using Scuba gear as they seem to love the bubbles created when you exhale.
“There were also around 20 bald eagles perched on the small outcrop of land where the Sea Lions congregate.
“I spent four days in total working with them to see how their behaviour changed and to try and create some images that express their movement and the level of interaction that we had with them.”
After graduating from University of Leicester, Steve worked as a press and sport photographer in the UK before embarking on a career in marine conservation.
He set up a shark foundation in Indonesia (Gili Shark Foundation) and ran a marine conservation organisation (UK Charity Sea Sanctuaries Trust) in Raja Ampat, West Papua before moving to Norway.