These remarkable underwater pictures show a deadly Leopard Seal playing and somersaulting in front of the camera.
Amateur photographer Steve Jones, 39, was submerged under sheets of ice in the -1c Antarctic sea for over TWO hours to capture the playful beasts.
Incredibly, the seals swam to Steve and rubbed their noses against his lens before somersaulting backwards into the depths last February.
Former diving instructor Steve is among only a handful of people to photograph predatory Leopard Seals in their natural environment.
Steve, from Walligford, Oxon., said: “Leopard Seals really were are some of the most amazing animals.
“They behaved like playful dogs and would swim right up to the camera, pose and somersault right in front of me.
“I put several layers of thermal protection on to take the pictures but I was still freezing.
“The feeling of blood returning to my hands after getting out of the water was enough to make a grown man cry in pain.
“Sometimes the photos can take priority over my own safety. It’s dangerous but to see such magnificent creatures is well worth it.”
Steve travelled from Argentina to Antarctica with a team of 57 film-makers, photographers and scientists on February 12.
The expedition marked the 100th anniversary of legendary explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s failed attempt to cross the Antarctic in 1914.
The 10ft long creatures which weigh around 1,300lbs have attacked several explorers including Shakleton’s pal Thomas Orde-Lees when one chased him across the ice.
A leopard seal dragged snorkeler Kirsty Brown underwater to her death in the only known fatal attack in 2003.
But incredibly, Steve captured thousands of images of the deadly predators playing with him in their natural environment.
Steve’s pictures which include shots of other wildlife including Penguins, Seals and Birds – will be published as part of a book about Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
Steve added: “Antarctica is the most wonderful place I’ve ever been to and I’ll definitely be returning. The wildlife there is breathtaking.
“It’s easy to see the thrill that Shackleton and his men experienced when they were first trying to cross the region.”