Flip Nicklin: A Life Among Whales

Flip Nicklin is one of the featured keynote speakers at the 2015 NANPA Summit taking place in San Diego, California from February 19th – 22nd. Flip will also lead of one of the Pre-Summit Boot Camp sessions. To learn more about the Summit and to register for this exciting and inspirational event, please visit  www.naturephotographysummit.com. Early bird registration ends on October 31st! 

 

Humpback whale mother and young; Hawaii. © Flip Nicklin

Humpback whale mother and young; Hawaii. © Flip Nicklin

Forty feet below me she hovers quietly. She’s 45 feet long and 80,000 pounds, and her bulk hides her 15-foot-long calf. The calf makes his way out from under her chin to take a few breaths at the surface. On his way back to his mother, the young humpback spots me near the research boat and gives me a good look. After 35 years of photographing cetaceans professionally, situations like this still bring a smile to my face.

The lives of whales aren’t always serene, though. Only a few days after I spot the mother with her calf, our research team finds a dozen male humpbacks fighting over a female. The battle is brutal; many of the whales have open bloody scrapes on the tops of their bodies. Despite whales’ occasional reputation as “gentle giants,” I would never use the word “gentle” to describe these violent, occasionally fatal encounters in the winter breeding grounds off the coast of Hawaii. Continue reading