Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic Stock
Name: Paul Nicklen
Place of Birth: Saskatchewan, Canada
Current Home: Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
Occupation: Photojournalist and regular contributor to National Geographic magazine
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
How did you get started in your field?
I was a biologist, and when I was 26 I switched full-time to being a wildlife photographer.
What is a typical day like for you?
I work 18 hours a day in the field in the Arctic or Antarctica because it is sunny 24 hours a day during their respective summers.
What inspires you to dedicate your life to the ocean?
The ocean is hidden, isolated, incredibly vast, vulnerable, and completely underrepresented. We need more scientists and photographers out there documenting change and creating awareness.
What has been your favorite experience in the field?
Seeing the largest marine protected area in history put around the Phoenix Islands based on our story we did for National Geographic magazine. The continuing work of scientists like Greg Stone was key.
Do you have a hero?
Many: David Doubilet, Flip Nicklin, Joel Sartore, Jane Goodall, Cristina Mittermeier, David Suzuki, and the list continues.
If you could have people do one thing to help the ocean, what would it be?
Factor the ocean into all of their day-to-day decisions, just as they do money. Mostly, be very aware of every marine species they consume.
More About Ocean Heroes
See photos of Arctic and Antarctica landscapes and wildlife, such as polar bears, gentoo penguins, and leopard seals, by photographer Paul Nicklen.
With an emphasis on underwater photography, Paul Nicklen excels in working in harsh environments and cross-cultural situations. His photographic style reflects a reverence for the creatures that inhabit the isolated Arctic.
Nicklen shares his thoughts about leopard seals—and other polar predators he has studied since he was a boy growing up in a small Inuit community in the Canadian Arctic.
Ocean Photo Galleries
National Geographic Magazine
A cast of thousands clings to rocky real estate in a narrow strip of shore called the intertidal zone.
From tiny coral polyps grew a marvel: Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Could it all come crumbling down?
Carbon dioxide we pump into the air is seeping into the ocean and slowly acidifying it.
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Help protect the last healthy, undisturbed places in the ocean so we can learn how to help healthy reefs thrive, help unhealthy reefs recover, and better preserve the ocean.
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Explore the world's oceans, from their prehistoric beginnings to modern-day efforts to preserve their natural wonder.
Immerse yourself in the wonders of the deep through colorful maps, photos, and satellite images.
Engage, Conserve, Restore
The National Geographic Society’s freshwater initiative is a multi-year global effort to inspire and empower individuals and communities to conserve freshwater and preserve the extraordinary diversity of life that rivers, lakes, and wetlands sustain.