Paul Nicklen

Co-founder of @Sea_Legacy and contributing photographer to National Geographic

1,084 posts 3,722,634 followers 1,238 following

What does it mean when a 50 foot-long whale weighing 60,000 pounds hurls itself out of the ocean over and over? I shot this on #8K in slow motion as I wanted the moment to last forever while studying every detail. More importantly, we must control ship traffic in critical migratory and feeding corridors of these noise sensitive leviathans. Shot on assignment for @sea_legacy #shotonred with @reddigitalcinema #nature #beauty #whale #breach #naturelovers


Every bear is an individual. Unique in personality, and definitely unique in hunting styles. Young bears often flail, chasing salmon up and down creeks burning up valuable calories while taking in very little nutrition. Then there are the wise and more experienced bears, like this one in the Great Bear Rainforest that caught fish after fish effortlessly all morning long. #nature #bear #shotonred @reddigitalcinema


An outspoken, passionate voice for the Salish Sea has gone quiet. Laurie Gourlay was a tireless advocate for the waterways of coastal B.C. and through his organization—the Salish Sea Trust—he worked hard to protect them. He spearheaded a campaign to have the Salish Sea designated a World Heritage Site, and @Sea_Legacy was proud to throw our support behind him. Now that he’s gone, I feel even more empowered to protect this coast for all the people and animals that live here. Let’s do it together. Let’s do it for Laurie. Rest in peace.



Karissa Glendale (@tlalitlas_08) is one of several young women who have been occupying fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago, which lies within their First Nations’ traditional territories. It’s ironic, as they have been served an injunction for “trespassing”, yet the foreign-owned and operated fish farms—mostly run by publicly-traded Norwegian companies—have never been given permission to operate in Musgmagw Dzawada’enuwx and Namgis territory. It’s time for Canadians to evict these farms from the water, as they are a human rights violation and ecological disaster. Plus, the fish they produce are disgusting. My heart and my support goes out to these brave, young women who are standing up to foreign corporate interests and a Canadian government who lacks the spine to make the right choices. Are you listening @JustinPJTrudeau and @JohnHorgan4BC? We are #turningthetide for Canadian waters and First Nations people. Please join us. Click the link in my bio for more information.


This is one of my favourite pieces from the @paulnicklengallery in NYC: Sea Wolf of the Great Bear. It features one of the animals from B.C. that I cherish most—the rain (or sea wolf. This unique subspecies of wolf benefits greatly from protected marine areas. Keep updated on how we are trying to establish more MPAs by following @Sea_Legacy and @paulnicklengallery so that we can stay on the front line of key issues and support remarkable animals like these wolves. #turningthetide


Warning: graphic and disturbing content. This is my longest caption ever, but this issue affects all of us so please read. Photograph donated by John and Jane Doe. In 2001, I photographed my first major assignment for @natgeo on the fish farming industry. I went in as a naïve, young and unbiased journalist. Two years and five countries later, I was horrified by this industry. Atlantic salmon farming is destructive to ecosystems, and especially wild fish stocks. Doctors warn that eating farmed fish can be destructive to our health, especially for pregnant women. I was proud when the resulting story won first place at the World Press Photo Awards for journalistic storytelling. At the time, our story told how it took four pounds of wild anchovies to make a pound of farmed salmon, causing the collapse of foundation fish stocks in some waters. This industry uses more antibiotics and pesticides than any other livestock industry on Earth. Fish farms cause sea lice infestations that are collapsing some wild trout and salmon stocks wherever these farms exist. We even reported on how the industry uses a chemical colorant in their feed to give fish flesh—which is otherwise pale—a bright orange color. Things have only became worse—a lot worse. As reported by the BC provincial veterinarian in charge, 80% of the BC salmon farming industry is infected with Piscine reovirus, which is a highly contagious blood virus that causes heart disease in salmon. An infected salmon farm can shed up to 60 billion infectious virus particles per hour...let that soak in. Wild salmon are not built to survive this and many may die before being able to complete their epic journey upstream to spawn.

Why do we put a much larger tourism industry, our entire marine ecosystem, our health, our commercial fishing, our sport fishing industries, and most importantly, our relationship with First Nations, at risk for a few people in Norway to get rich? Who in our provincial and federal governments are making these decisions, and why are we not standing up and fighting?

#TurningtheTide with @Sea_Legacy. With @MolinaDawson @CleansingourWaters #getfishfarmsout #protectourocean



Perhaps more than any other species, polar bears have played a pivotal role in my photography. It’s #polarbearweek so I’m sharing new imagery from the recent @sea_legacy expedition to Tallurutiup Imanga / Lancaster Sound marine conservation area and some of my iconic archival bear shots. Stay tuned for more polar bears over the weekend. #polarbear #turningthetide


This is definitely one of my favorite prints at the @paulnicklengallery. “Committment”. #love #emperorpenguin #care #parenthood #family #mother #happy #beautyisallaroundus #blackandwhite


Through the pouring rain along the coast of #BritishColumbia, a grizzly bear rises from a salmon creek with a rock carefully balanced on his forehead. Even bears take a break from this essential feeding time for a bit of fun. On @sea_legacy expedition on this coast. #keepitwild #20by2020 #mpa #nature #naturelovers #instagood #photooftheday #fun #play #bear #grizzlybear



This life-sized print of "Morris the Bear” and I will be at the @paulnicklengallery in #NYC all afternoon today. The address is 347 West Broadway. I am also going to be autographing another round of books. I would love to meet you or see you again. I am very proud that my friend Vincent Munier will be showcasing his incredible work as well. He is a fine art wildlife photographer like no other. #fineartwithpurpose #nature #naturelovers #bethechange #bw


While sitting in my photo blind, this large male wolf snuck up on me through the grass along along a river. I took a couple of images and then remained motionless while he completed his assessment. Fortunately, after this moment going forward, I was accepted. Days later, the pack brought their young pups out to play in front of us. If you are in New York City this week I would love to see you at The Gallery at 347 W. Broadway on Saturday. @thephotosociety @natgeocreative #picoftheday #wolf #instagram. #turningthetide tide with @Sea_legacy


Climate change is real. It’s time to stop debating this inconvenient truth, and instead direct our collective energy towards good decisions for the planet. Big change comes from small adjustments. Some ways to #doyourpart include avoiding plastics, choosing certified fish, and volunteering your time to a cause for change. Visit @AnInconvenientTruth and check out @ZariaLynn to see what others are doing.

@SeaLegacy | #TurningTheTide | #ocean | #protect | #BeInconvenient | #ClimateChangeisReal | @AnInconvenientTruth | @NatGeoPristineSeas | @mattiasklumofficial



Sometimes I am simply overwhelmed by the beauty in the world. When these cassiopeas—or upside down jellyfish—float past you in the pristine mangroves of Cuba’s Jardines de la Reina, there is little to do but stop and appreciate the magnificence of it all. Our expedition to Cuba has taught us many lessons and shown us limitless potential, but I think the simple, stunning beauty of these graceful invertebrates is one of the things I will remember most vividly. #followme on @paulnicklen to see more from this magical protected corner of the sea. #turningthetidewith @sea_legacy #video #nature #naturelovers #beauty


I love heading into the abyss in search of sharks. It takes a photograph like this to make me realize the incredible number of generous people and companies I have in my life. We only use the best gear and work with the best people. This is not a sponsored ad, but I certainly am grateful for all of these products. For all of our wetsuits and dry suits, thank you @waterproofinternational. For diving equipment, thank you @aqualungdivers and @apeksdiving. For underwater housings, thank you @nauticamhousings and @seacam_official. For lights, thank you to @lightandmotion for the #sola8000's. Thanks to @gates.underwater lights for loaning us your powerful lights on our recent Cuba expedition. For the incredible 8K motion camera, thanks to @reddigitalcinema. And finally, in order to get all of our gear on these expeditions, thank you to @thinktankphoto and @skbcases. #gratitude Photograph by the awesome @cristinamittermeier who is, of course, sponsored by @sonyalpha. Thank you for making this expedition to Cuba possible; @sonyalpha, Dalio Ocean Initiative, @aluciaproductions and, most importantly, our ever-growing #tide of supporters. We can't wait to share the results with you. #turningthetide with @sea_legacy


I am excited to be heading back to the @paulnicklengallery in New York City this week to open "Whiteout: Visions from an Infinite Winter”. I can’t wait to share my work with you but, more importantly, I have been a long time admirer of Vincent Munier and his incredible sensitivity to light, composition and subject matter. Please come by Saturday, November 4th from 1-7 PM and meet us. The gallery staff have been doing an amazing job while we have been off on yet another @sea_legacy expedition in Cuba. We are proud that a large percentage of whatever sells in the gallery goes back to fund our ocean conservation efforts. #gratitude #nature #beauty #naturelovers #fineartwithpurpose #bear #polarbear



What is your happy place? For me, it’s being surrounded by top predators in the ocean. I love them for their beauty, intelligence and ability to survive, but more importantly, I love to look into their eyes and know I have been put on this Earth to give them a voice. If we can protect sharks then we can protect entire ecosystems and, in turn, we protect the lungs of the planet that keeps us alive. Are we all going to move to Mars, or are we going to protect four billion years of evolutionary perfection?If we are going to continue abusing this planet with reckless abandon, we will pay the price. Here, silky sharks interact with us after a long dive in Cuba's Gardens of the Queen #turningthetide with @sea_legacy With @andy_mann @cristinamittermeier @sam_kretch @aluciaproductions @mdalio and @Iankellett_story #gratitude #bethechange #nature #naturelovers #bw #blackandwhite


A Goliath grouper digests a lobster off the coast of Cuba. As the light wanes at the end of the day, lobsters start to come out from under their coral or rock shelters and these massive fish—that can grow up to eight feet long and 700 pounds—are there to feast on them. I had no idea these ancient, massive fish had such an appetite for these large crustaceans. Until a harvest ban was placed on groupers, the population was in rapid decline. They are now protected and listed as a critically endangered species by the IUCN. The US began protection in 1990 with the Caribbean following soon after. The species' population has been recovering since the ban and there is talk of lifting this ban in Florida waters. What do you think about lifting the fishing ban on this species? #turningthetide with @sea_legacy. #nature #naturelovers #protect #mpa


The Cuban locals call him Tito. I call him big, curious and slightly intimidating; especially at night when he approached @andy_mann and I out of the mangroves. He seemed to be attracted to my video lights which were naturally attached to my camera which was six inches in front of my face. I would not trade moments like this for anything. #follow our efforts on @sea_legacy as we are #turningthetide. In Cuba we are celebrating Jardines De La Reina National Marine Park and—through our visual storytelling—we will share with the world what an ocean looks like when you protect it. On #assignment with @sea_legacy and @aluciaproductions with @cristinamittermeier @mdalio @samkretch @iankellet_story. Thank you to the Dalio Ocean Initiative for supporting our ocean conservation vision. #nature #mpa #naturelovers #embraceyourfear #ignoreyourgutinsinct #gratitude



Today, just off the coast of Little Cayman, @CristinaMittermeier and I traveled to a depth of 1100 feet in @AluciaProductions' submersible, the Nadir. The deeper and darker it got, the more eye-opening the experience became. Few humans have seen the world this way, and it’s astonishing that we know more about the cosmos than we do the oceans. Thank you to @buck_taylor_ for masterfully piloting the sub.
Follow @sea_legacy for more videos of us exploring the depths with @samkretch and @iankellett_story.
#TurningTheTide #nature #oceans


The locals call him Niño, which in Spanish means “boy.” He is only eight or nine feet long but that does not mean he lacked confidence. If I got too close he would gently remind me to back off by slowly opening up his mouth. He is definitely not as scary as he looks. #nature #cuba #TurningTheTide with @sea_legacy with @aluciaproductions @andy_mann and @cristinamittermeier


Blue-line jacks dance and shimmer in the morning light as they cruise along with a Caribbean reef shark in Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen. Notice how they take turns bouncing off the shark. Many believe they rub themselves on the shark’s sandpaper-like skin to remove parasites.

It is refreshing and uplifting to dive in a Marine Protected Area where sharks follow us on every dive. Visit the URL on my profile to see how we are #turningthetide at @Sea_Legacy.
With @cristinamittermeier, @andy_mann, @captik_iank and @samkretch #gratitude #nature #naturelovers #shark #love #beauty dance #ocean #shotonred @reddigitialcinema with @aluciaproductions


It feels better to have a friend with you in the water when a large croc becomes a curious croc. He was an awesome and impressive animal, and it was humbling to enter his lair. With that said, the biggest risk to us was the lightning storm that moved overhead during this moment. We are just returning from an awesome, important and beautiful expedition in the Gardens of the Queen, Cuba. Please join @sea_legacy to #follow our efforts. Click on the URL in my bio to join us in our efforts to protect our oceans. #turningthetide with @sea_legacy with @cristinamittermeier @andy_mann @samkretch @captik_iank @mdalio @aluciaproductions #croc #nature #love #beauty #video #shotonred #explore #adventure


A silky shark cuts through the surface of the water in the Jardines de la Reina, Cuba. @Sea_Legacy is here with our partners at @AluciaProductions to shine a light on what a pristine, healthy ocean looks like, and why it should be protected. Please follow @AluciaProductions, @Andy_Mann and @CristinaMittermeier to follow along on this beautiful, important expedition. #TurningTheTide


With ice crystals in the air on a cold evening, a Greenlandic hunter from Qaanaaq travels across the sea ice towards the floe edge. I traveled here with @sea_legacy co-founder @cristinamittermeier in the hopes of #turningthetide for climate change.


Wolf pups howl in the evening, calling to their mother as she hunts along the coast of British Columbia. Follow me at @sea_legacy to learn how we are #TurningTheTide for the Salish Sea and all the animals (like wolves) that live on it.


A lone hunter travels along the coast of Northwest Greenland in front of a glacier at -30c. The hunters told us about their changing environment where the sea ice is getting thinner and glaciers like this one are retreating. You can see the physical scars on the mountainside behind the glacier showing how thick it used to be. They have no control over this changing environment and you can see the concern in their eyes as they talk about an uncertain future. #turningthetide @sea_legacy


A young Pacific white sided dolphin cruises above its mother 150 kilometres off the west coast of British Columbia. I love how curious these dolphins can be. This mother kept bringing her young calf over to investigate the intruder in her ocean. The team at @oceansinitiative has done some amazing work on these dolphins and other species, on the effects of ship noise and how it effects their fishing effectiveness. It’s encouraging to know small, dedicated organizations are out there trying to find real life solutions to our oceans’ problems. A big thank you from my team at @sea_legacy to @oceansinitiative for #turningthetide.


“Charismatic megafauna” is a term often used in conservation circles. It essentially means giant, majestic animals that make people emotional. Think humpback whales, polar bears and tigers—the all-stars. Obviously, I love working with these big, beautiful animals as much as the next guy—if not more—but I’m still attracted to the little ones. Like this sunflower starfish in the Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas). When the canopy of macrocystis kelp is pierced by afternoon light and lights up the seafloor, the small creatures have the same power to make us emotional. That’s why I believe it’s important to ask people to get outside more often. Conservation is about a connection to the land and water, and it’s hard to connect with something you’re unfamiliar with. Go outside, get under the water, climb a mountain, or just walk in the park. Any time outside is good for us, and for the earth. #TurningTheTide for @sea_legacy


It’s Canadian thanksgiving today. I want to say thank you to everyone who keeps pushing towards the light. Life can be challenging, so it’s important to stay positive, be empathetic, love each other, and be patient. When you watch the news, this world seems to be falling apart. I would urge you to turn off your TV—especially today—and instead look to your neighbours, your family, friends, co-workers. These are the real people and the real world, and they are all trying their best to be better. Let’s move towards the light together, and let’s be the best version of ourselves that we can be. Happy thanksgiving, everyone. Spread some love today.


You normally wouldn’t find a wolf eel out of its den during the day. Typically, they live in caves in deeper water with only their heads poking out. On this dive in 2015, we found over twenty wolf eels out of their dens in ten feet of water all gasping for air. They were dying. We found dozens of dead fish with their mouths agape. The overly warm, algae-filled water of Puget Sound had become anoxic in some areas. Scientists measured that there is actually zero percent oxygen in the water column in some areas of Puget Sound. It’s terrifying and heartbreaking but we can’t become apathetic. Follow us at @sea_legacy to hear about ways we can all help to make our oceans healthy again. Click the link in my bio to sign up with email.