At 80 feet long and 80 tons — so big, that an African Elephant could stand on its tongue — the Blue Whale is almost mythical in size. And, that’s just part of the attraction for Flip Nicklin, contributing photographer for National Geographic magazine, the foremost whale photographer in the world — and our featured speaker at The Water’s Edge fundraising gala on October 2nd, 2008.
“The more you know of whales, the more it sounds like fiction,” said Nicklin, chuckling over the notion that we think we know so much — until we learn some more. Nicklin has spent much of his 30-year career, along with research colleague Jim Darling, absorbing the myth and magic of whales and adding to it biological studies. With the proceeds from the sale of his photo collection to Minden Pictures in 1996, Nicklin started the Whale Trust, a not-for-profit research and education organization based in Hawaii. The Trust’s guiding philosophy is that science — the quest for answers to the most intriguing questions about our natural world — lies at the heart of environmental education and conservation.
“I was destined to be a diver,” says Nicklin, reflecting on the family lore that was the catalyst for his illustrious photographic career and his life’s passion — the Whale Trust. Nicklin’s maternal grandfather was a hard-hat diver and pile driver who built things for a living; preparing for an underwater construction project he died in full-dress, the victim of a whirlpool accident; his body was never found. Nicklin’s father ran a diving equipment operation. In 1963 his father and a buddy were thrust into the public eye when they encountered a whale entangled in fishing nets and set out to untangle it. This first-ever “whale-ride” prompted National Geographic underwater photographer Bates Littlehales to pay him a visit — and thus the young man, Flip, met one of his first mentors.
Since then Nicklin has spent his life largely under water. Credited with 20 National Geographic feature stories and several books, he is an expert on whales — and can free-dive to depths of 80 feet among these magnificent creatures. Asked why he would put himself in potential danger, he recalled his first encounter underneath a 40-foot Humpback whale. “This is bad,” he thought, but subsequently came to see that “whales are like dogs; they’ve each got a different personality. They’ll give you warning — and you know when to stay away.”
Please don’t stay away from this year’s Water’s Edge. Join us at Longwood Gardens on Thursday, October 2nd at 6:15pm for Flip Nicklin’s presentation, Whales, A Changing View.
To learn more about the Whale Trust, go to
To read Flip Nicklin’s bio, go to: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photographers/
For more information on Flip Nicklin, check out “Whale Watcher,” a recent article in Alaska magazine:
For information on The Water's Edge fundraising gala featuring Nicklin at
Longwood Gardens on October 2nd, or the cocktail reception to be held at the Harvard Club in New York City on October 3rd, please go to:
For reservations or questions regarding either event, please contact:
610-268-2153 x 247
For directions to Longwood Gardens, the location for The Water’s Edge, go to: http://www.longwoodgardens.org/Directions_1_2_4.html
Back to Summer 2008 Upstream Newsletter