Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 24 Issue 03

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Volume 24, No. 3
Pages 314 - 314


Among Giants: A Life with Whales

Kim Shelden
First Paragraph

It was on a sunny day in the mid-1970s, bobbing on the waves off Massachusetts in a little 5 m powerboat with my family, that we heard a loud WHOOSH and turned to see a large black form heading straight for our boat. At the last moment, it sank beneath the surface, and as we hurried to the side of the boat to look down, the form glided below us, its large, white pectoral fins spread out like wings at what seemed like mere centimeters beneath the boat. The humpback whale surfaced a short distance from us, spouted a few more times, and then was gone. This was my first encounter with one of these giants of the deep, and it certainly left a lasting impression. Such awe-inspiring, and at times heart-pounding, encounters fill Charles “Flip” Nicklin’s book Among Giants: A Life with Whales. Nicklin blends the story of his life with his recollections of the inspirations and guidance from mentors that led him to a career that combined his love of scuba diving and photography, all set against the stunning backdrop of the incredible images of marine life that he has taken over the past 30+ years. Along with these amazing images, Nicklin also pays tribute to a number of the researchers with whom he has worked and who have dedicated their lives to studying these animals. He never sugarcoats how difficult it is to study creatures that spend most of their lives beneath the surface. From rough seas, to complex logistics, and all too often a lack of funding, these hardships are part and parcel of the trade. Nicklin is also frank about the plights of these animals, many of which are in danger of extinction.


Shelden, K. 2011. Review of Among Giants: A Life with Whales, by C. Nicklin. Oceanography 24(3):314, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2011.88.

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