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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ready for your close-up? Incredible pictures of whales taken by the man who gets scarily near to his giant subjects

By Daily Mail Reporter

Flipping incredible: Researcher Jason Sturgis is just yards away when a one-year-old humpback whale leaps out of the water in a playful gesture off Hawaii

These jaw-dropping photos are a stunning tribute to one man's 30-year journey alongside the greatest marine giants on the planet.

In some, researchers get scarily close to a 50-foot Southern Right Whale as it waves its tail above the water.

In another, an excited young Humpback leaps in the face of an astonished biologist.

Bird's-eye view: Mr Sturgis gets up close and personal with a female humpback and her yearling

Open wide: A humpback feeds as herring gulls wait for leftovers at the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in Massachusetts, USA

World-class nature researcher and photographer Charles 'Flip' Niklin, 62, from Alaska has published this incredible set of pictures in his new book, Among Giants.

Flip said: 'I do my research and take pictures along the way.

'The story I tell is about how close researchers can get to whales.

'In the picture of the Southern Right Whale with its tail out the water in Argentina, you can see how close the three researchers were able to get in their rubber boat.

'That whale actually had its tail out the water for five whole minutes.

'We still don't know why it was doing this - it could be a way of losing heat by basking in the wind.'

Wave for the camera: A whale prepares to slap its pectoral fin on the surface of the water off Hawaii as a family watches on from a boat

One for the family album: A sperm whale mother with her white morph calf near Portugal

In another incredible incident, researcher Jason Sturgis was swimming with a one-year-old humpback whale when it began to play with him by leaping around him in the water.

Flip became involved with whale research as a journalist before he qualified as a marine biologist and began to research them himself.

He said: 'Our view of whales has changed so much in the time I've studied them.

'When we first saw whales, we thought they were monsters. Once we realised they were, in fact, in danger from us, I think our perspective totally changed.

'Now we can appreciate how intelligent and charismatic they are.

'This is what I've tried to capture in my book - the personal experience of my time with them.'

During Flip's life, he has travelled to at least 20 different countries and all of the world's oceans.

Flip added: 'My job isn't to tell people what to think - but to give them things to think about.'

Flip's book, Among Giants: A Life with Whales is available in hardcover for £25 from www.amazon.com



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