Nick is an award-winning wildlife photographer, acclaimed author and popular tour leader who has a passionate concern for biodiversity and the fragile environment we inhabit.
He studied zoology at Nottingham University, but soon afterwards realised that the academic world was too constraining and, via stints working on international conservation projects, he subsequently found the avenues of photography and popular natural history writing provided the freedom he wanted to indulge in and express his interests in the biological world.
Nick is best known for his work in tropical rain forests, where the diversity and complexity of life prompts relentless curiosity and inspiration. He is also intrigued by the peculiarities of islands, with the faunas of Madagascar and Borneo being particular favourites.
His travels have taken him all over the globe and he has photographed wildlife in many of the world's iconic as well as less glamorous and more unusual locations. His images appear in high quality publications globally (National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Terra Mater, Geographical etc.), while his books, that combine his photography, writing and illustration have received wide critical acclaim.
Wildlife photography has never been more popular and an ever-increasing number of keen photographers, whether beginners or experienced, are travelling to indulge their interest. Nick has teamed up with Wildlife Worldwide to offer an diverse programme of specialist photography trips. The aim of these is to offer unmatched experiences that maximise opportunities to watch and photograph wildlife while helping participants improve their techniques and achieve the best results from their photography, irrespective of their level of experience.
Pistol or Snapping Shrimps (family Alpheidae) produce the loudest sound of any animal. They are capable of snapping their claws shut so rapidly that a a bubble is created, that immediately collapses producing a sonic blast, that is louder than the sonic boom of a supersonic aircraft: the shock wave can reach 230 decibels, (also louder than ta gunshot). Also for a split second, the imploding bubble generates a temperature in excess of 4,000°C (nearly as hot as the sun), killing it’s prey.
Pufferfish (family Tetraodontidae) can contain tetrodoxin, a toxin that is up to 1,200 times more potent to humans than cyanide. There is enough toxin in a single pufferfish to kill 30 adult humans. And there is no known antidote. Amazingly despite this, some pufferfish meat is considered a delicacy in Japan. The meat, called Fugu, is expensive and only prepared by chefs with over 3 years of rigorous training who remove toxic parts of the flesh before it is served.
Straw-coloured Fruit Bats (Eidolon helvum) achieve the greatest aggregations of any mammal. Between November and December, in Zambia’s Kasanaka National Park, colonies may contain more than 12 million individuals.
In relation to body size, the Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) has the longest beak of any bird: it can be 10cm in length and longer than the birds’ body.
American Buffalo (Bison bison) numbers were reduced from 70-80 million to fewer than 800 in less than 30 years: a deliberate slaughter by European settlers as they spread west across the plains.
The world’s largest true carnivore is the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus): males typically weigh up to 600kg, but weights in excess of 900kg have been recorded.
The Common Tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatus) from Madagascar, produces the largest litters of any mammal: 31 is the record in captivity, although the average in the wild is around 20.
Migrating Spiny Lobsters (family Palinuridae) travel in lines of up to 60 individuals and can walk up to 60km over the sea bed.
The Northern Pacific Giant Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) has three hearts, nine brains and blue blood. They are also able to change their colour and texture to camouflage themselves in a blink of an eye.
The greatest high jumper among mammals is the White-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii) that has been recorded leaping an incredible 6.5m (21ft) vertically. That is considerably more than three men of average height stood on top of each other. This large species of hare can also run up to 55kph (35mph) when trying to evade predators.
Camels have elliptical, rather than round, red blood cells to prevent their blood thickening when their body temperature rises.
There are as many as 12,000 human fatalities per year in India from snake bite. By contrast the average in North America is just 10.
Male seahorses (genus Hippocampus) become pregnant and give birth to young. They are they only animal where the male, rather than the female, does this. A male seahorse has a pouch on his stomach in which young are carried - as many as 2,000 at a time.
The Siberian Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is the largest wild cat (family Felidae): males may reach over 3m in length, weigh more than 320kg and are capable of eating up to 25kg of meat in a sitting.
Flamingos (family Phoenicopteridae) are not pink. They are grey when hatching and acquire their colour through their diet. The brine shrimps and blue-green algae they eat, contain a natural dye called canthaxanthin that is deposited in their feathers turning them pink.
The Two-banded Anemonefish (Amphiprion bicinctus) lives in symbiotic partnership amongst the venomous tentactles of anemones. If two males confront one another, they do not fight, instead one turns in to a female and they mate.
The loudest animal relative to its body size is the Water Boatman (family Corixidae), which measures a mere 12mm in length but can produce 99dB of sound by rubbing its genitalia across its abdomen. (Ouch! Is this the sound of its own scream?) This is the equivalent noise level to a circular saw, or a power drill.
The four largest cat species – Tiger, Lion, Jaguar and Leopard – are distinguished from all others because they can roar. Smaller cats can only purr and make shrill, high pitched cries.
In 1922, Miss Georgina Ballantine landed an Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) weighing 29kg (64lbs) from the Glen Delvine Water on the River Tay, Scotland. This leviathan remains the largest salmon ever caught on rod and line in the UK.
Myths of mermaids or sirens may well have been spawned by seafarer’s stories of Dugongs (Dugong dugon), a strange prehistoric relic that has human-like breasts.
Sea Hares (Aplysia dactylomela) are snails without shells, whose bodies are male at the front and female at the rear, so sex involves the formation if erotic chains of animals arranged end to end.
In rich feeding grounds, the Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus) may eat 40 million krill per day, weighing 3,600 kg – that’s the equivalent of an African elephant!
The smallest known elephant was a prehistoric dwarf species, Elephas falconeri, which had a maximum shoulder height of around 90cm.
Solenodons, strange primitive insectivores from Cuba and Haiti, produce neurotoxic venom in their saliva, which helps subdue prey like frogs, small reptiles and large invertebrates.
The Small-eyed Goby (Gobiodon micropus) can change sex almost at will. Put a small female with a larger one and she becomes male. Put the same individual with a larger male and it reverts back to being female.
The largest eggs ever laid, were by the extinct Elephant Bird (Aepyornis maximus) from Madagascar. They contained up to 12 litres of fluid, the equivalent of 240 chicken eggs: enough to make 80 omelets.
The Fosa (Cryptoprocta ferox) is unusual amongst carnivores in having “reversible” ankles that help make it an exceptional climber and tree-top hunter.
An individual House Fly (Musca domestica) carries between 2 million and 3 million bacteria on and inside its body.
The shaved or powdered horn of Indian One-horned Rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) can fetch as much as US$20,000 – $30,000 per kilo on the black market.
The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) eats between 12 and 38kg of bamboo each day (60% of its time) to meet its energy requirements. Bamboo has very little nutritional value, so they have to eat it in vast quantities to survive. Although the giant panda possess the digestive system of a carnivore (they are a type of bear, family Ursidae), they have evolved to depend almost entirely on bamboo (a modified type of grass).
The Mangrove Killifish (Kryptolebias marmoratus), which lives in red mangrove estuaries in the Caribbean and coasts of Central and northern South America, is the only vertebrate hermaphrodite.
Krill (Euphausia superba), a small shrimp-like crustacean that lives in the Southern Ocean is amongst the most abundant animals. Swarms are so immense they can be tracked by satellite and their total weight probably exceeds that of any other animal on Earth. The word “krill” comes from a Norwegian word meaning “whale food”.
The Golden Takin (Budorcas taxicolor bedfordi) – a type of goat-antelope (subfamily Caprinae) – has a striking orange-yellow coat and is thought possibly to have given rise to the legend of the 'golden fleece', searched for by Jason and the Argonauts. Golden Fleece was the name of the 1982 Epsom Derby winner.
Like whales, flamingos only go to sleep with half of their brain “shut down” at a time. Hence, when they are asleep, they stand on one leg.
The fangs of the exquisitely camouflaged Gaboon Viper (Bitis gabonica) are the longest of any snake and may reach 5.5cm.
The skin secretions carried by a single Golden Poison-arrow Frog (Phyllobates terribilis) are enough to kill nearly 1000 people.
From fledging, to landing to nest for the first time two years later, the Common Swift (Apus apus) flies non-stop approximately 500,000km.
The male Emperor Moth (Eudia pavonia) possesses the most acute sense of smell of any animal. The receptors on their antennae are so sensitive they can detect a single molecule of female scent (pheromone) and they can detect a virgin female at a range of 11km.
Over the course of an average 25-year life, the Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) flies the equivalent of a return trip to the Moon.
Sperm Whales (Physeter catodon) have the largest brain of any animal and they make the deepest and longest dives of any creature.
South American Giant Anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) can consume up to 35,000 ants and termites per day. They use their long sticky tongues to slurp up hundreds of individuals per minute. Interestingly, anteaters purposefully never destroy a nest, preferring to leave some ants / termites alive to rebuild, so they can return and feed again in the future.
Goliath Beetles (Goliathus sp.) can weigh up to 100g – three times an average House Mouse – making them the largest living insects.
Spiders can “taste” things with their feet.
Nearly one quarter of all the world’s mammals are bats.
Mosquitos are the most dangerous animal on Earth: they transmit a variety of diseases that kill hundreds of thousands of people each year.
Slipper Limpets (Crepidula fornicata) are male when free-swimming, but become female once they settle on a rock. When a male swims by a female he immediately settles to mate. If another male then lands on top of him, the lower male then becomes female.
The Atlantic Giant Squid (Architeuthis dux) is the world’s largest invertebrate and has been known to reach lengths of 16m.
Relative to body size, termites (Isoptera) build the biggest structures of any land-dwelling creature. The tallest mounds are more than 2000 times the length of an individual termite. The tallest skyscrapers are only the equivalent height of around 300 people.
The largest wild Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) caught on rod and line in the UK weighed 11.5kg (25lbs 5oz) from Loch Awe in Scotland.
The word ‘jungle’ is generally used to describe tropical rainforest and is derived from the Hindi word ‘jangal, meaning waste ground. It was coined in 18th century India to describe the ‘wild impenetrable tangle of vegetation’ that grew on waste ground.
Nick Garbutt Wildlife Worldwide Photography Tours
Tours and workshops around the world combining unrivaled photographic opportunities with tuition