Among Giants

While in Hawaii, we stayed next door to Flip Nicklin, photographer for National Geographic. Flip is known far and wide for his stunning underwater photographs of whales. He has spent a lifetime diving among the giant animals in Hawaii, the Canadian Arctic, Patagonia, Sri Lanka to name a few. He brought home images of these animals as never seen before and a treasure chest of stories.

In 1979, scientists were pioneering studies of whales in the wild. The problem was that the whales only spent a brief moment on the surface to get a gulp of air. All the action was taking place beneath the waves and out of sight. The scientists had discovered that humpbacks off Maui were singing but they could not see what the animals were doing. Flip literally dove into the research and took the first picture of a singing whale. It became known as Frank. Flip’s career was launched and he would spend three decades taking whale portraits.

Flip has a new book out called Among Giants – A Life with Whales published by University of Chicago Press.  It tells the story of Flips life as a National Geographic photographer along with brief entries by some of the scientists he has worked with over the years. It is illustrated with some of the photographs that made Flip famous. I have a treasured copy sitting prominently on my book shelf.


About rob butler

I am a scientist, author and naturalist with over four decades of field study of wild animals. You can read more at my web site at
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