Judge Blocks “Cocaine Mom” Law, A Life In Marine Photography, Flaws Of Forensic Evidence

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One of the world’s leading marine photographers is with us to discuss a life spent capturing images of whales and dolphins. He talks about the techniques he uses and the experience of swimming next to the world’s biggest creatures. We also hear about a new investigative story looking into the flaws of forensic evidence in criminal investigations. And we take a closer look at Act 292 — a law that was blocked by a federal judge that allows the state to detain pregnant women suspected of abusing drugs or alcohol.

Featured in this Show

  • Federal Judge Blocks Wisconsin's 'Cocaine Mom' Law

    A federal judge blocked a 20-year-old Wisconsin law from being enforced on Friday. Act 292, sometimes known as the “cocaine mom” law, allows the state to detain women suspected of drug or alcohol abuse during their pregnancies. A health reporter shares the details.

  • Marine Photographer Shares A Life Swimming With Whales

    One of the world’s leading marine photographers joins us to share stories about his life swimming with whales and dolphins.

  • After Spending A Lifetime With Whales, Marine Photographer Shares His Adventures

    Charles “Flip” Nicklin has spent several decades of his life with whales. As one of the world’s top marine photographers, he is following in the footsteps of his father, who also gained worldwide recognition for capturing images of marine life.

    After photographing and surrounding himself with the elusive mammal for years for publications such as National Geographic, Nicklin said like any other animal that uses non-verbal communication (he gave the example of a dog or a child before it can speak), whales have a distinct way of connecting.

    “There’s a big difference between looking in the shark’s eye that didn’t give you that much back, and looking into a whale or dolphin eye where … they were saying so much without saying anything,” Nicklin said, adding he also pays attention to whale body language, like how it might tilt its head.

    His book “Among Giants: A Life With Whales,” is a record of his adventures from photographing some of the most awe-inspiring underwater mammals. And for someone who has stared into the eyes of a 210-ton, 100-foot blue whale more than once, Nicklin has gained some special insights into the world of whales.

    “When you get into different kinds of whales, dolphins, cetacean — there are different cultures, different subgroups, and there’s different individual personalities. I think that we usually talk in great generalities about these animals,” he said. “But it gets back to the individual being the thing that changes from day to day, minute to minute.”

    Nicklin isn’t just well-known for what he does, he has also developed a reputation for how he does it. When he photographs whales, he often does it by free diving — without a breathing apparatus like scuba gear — to depths of up to 90 feet. Swimming while holding his breath allows him to go close to a whale without interrupting it.

    Even with more than 5,000 dives under his belt, he didn’t describe the experience as easy.

    “Just imagine holding your breath for 30 or 40 seconds and then see how much you can think about art,” said Nicklin, who will share more stories Tuesday night at Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts. “(The process) was dive down, stay as long as you could, hope to get something (like) sort of enlightened snapshots.”

    His work with whales also goes beyond the realm of photography. Since the 1990s, Nicklin has worked with researchers to investigate the lives of humpback whales off the coast of Hawaii.

    He acknowledged he probably has had a lot more contact with whales than the average person. But regardless of whether or not one feels connected to the enormous animal, Nicklin said their home should matter to all of us.

    “Whales need a clean ocean, a healthy ocean and food to eat. They need all the things we need,” he said. “They’re a great icon of the health of the sea. And the health of the sea should be important to all of us, whether we really care about whales or not.”

    Nicklin’s talk will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State St., Madison. Tickets start at $40.

  • Report Finds Flawed Hair Evidence Was Used To Convict People In Wisconsin

    After the FBI admitted errors is 90 percent of cases that used forensic hair evidence, a report from the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism looks at how it is affecting people in Wisconsin — especially those that have sought, and won, exonerations. We talk to an attorney with the Innocence Project and a reporter.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Haleema Shah Producer
  • Veronica Rueckert Producer
  • David Wahlberg Guest
  • Charles 'Flip' Nicklin Guest
  • Dee Hall Guest
  • Jarrett Adams Guest
  • Veronica Rueckert Interviewer

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