Photo: Humpback whale swimming

Photograph by Flip Nicklin

Photo: Photographer Flip Nicklin

Photograph courtesy Flip Nicklin

Widely regarded as the premier whale photographer of the world, Flip Nicklin, a National Geographic contributing photographer, has more than 5,500 dives under his belt. His ability to free dive to depths of up to 90 feet (27 meters) allows him to swim near enough to record whale behavior without interrupting it.

Nicklin was born with both diving and photography in his blood. His father, Chuck, is a diver and underwater cinematographer who taught his sons to become scuba divers. At the age of 14, Nicklin was helping his father teach people to dive off of the coast of southern California.

His first contact with the National Geographic Society came in 1976 when he was signed on as a deckhand and diving assistant for a three-month shoot with photographers Bates Littlehales and Jonathan Blair. Every day he shot with the photographers, a lifelong dream for him. With the help of his mentors, two of Nicklin's images were published along with theirs in National Geographic.

Since then, Nicklin has gone on to photograph many articles for National Geographic. He is also the author of a National Geographic book, Face to Face With Dolphins.

Since 1996, Nicklin has worked with Jim Darling in a study of humpback whales off the coast of Maui, Hawaii. He is a co-investigator, along with Ph.D. candidate Meagan Jones.

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