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It all started in 1965 with a guy riding a whale. The guy was Flip Nicklin's father, Chuck, and the whale was an unlucky Bryde's Whale that had gotten caught up in some anchor line. Hoping to free the whale, Chuck and some friends took their boat as near as they could, and, just before they cut it loose, Chuck posed astride it for a photo.
That image, carried on wire services nationwide, became a sensation and ultimately changed the life of Chuck's young son, Flip. In the decades since that day, Flip Nicklin has made himself into the world's premier cetacean photographer. It's no exaggeration to say that his photos, published in such venues as National Geographic and distributed worldwide, have virtually defined these graceful, powerful creatures in the mind of the general public - even as they helped open new ground in the field of marine mammalogy.
"Among Giants" tells the story of Nicklin's life and career on the high seas, from his first ill-equipped shoots in the mid-1970s through his long association with the National Geographic Society to the present, when he is one of the founders of Whale Trust, a nonprofit conservation and research group. Nicklin is equal parts photographer, adventurer, self-trained scientist, and raconteur, and "Among Giants" reflects all those sides, matching breathtaking images to firsthand accounts of their making and highlighting throughout the importance of conservation and new advances in our understanding of whale behavior. With Nicklin as our guide, we see not just whales but also our slowly growing understanding of their hidden lives, as well as the evolution of underwater photography - and the stunning clarity and drama that can be captured when a determined, daring diver is behind the lens.
Humpbacks, narwhals, sperm whales, orcas - these and countless other giants of the ocean parade through these pages, spouting, breaching, singing, and raising their young. Nicklin's photographs bring us so completely into the underwater world of whales that we can't help but feel awe, while winning, personal accounts of his adventures show us what it's like to be a lone diver sharing their sea.
Charles "Flip" Nicklin is the whale photographer for the National Geographic Society, which has featured his photos and audio tracks of humpback and killer whales in numerous magazines and television specials since 1976. He is a cofounder of Whale Trust and the author of several books, including "With the Whales" and "Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises".
This is not only a book of extraordinary pictures, which it is, and the story of an extraordinary life, which it is; this is the story of the man who opened the window on a world we barely knew existed before his work. A compelling, engaging adventure story, well told. I can't recommend it highly enough.
- Christopher Moore, author of "Fluke"