Growing up with an overactive imagination on Long Island Sound, freelance writer Matt Villano spent days fantasizing about whales sounding, feeding, and generally cavorting in the great blue yonder. At age 7, when he saw his first right whale off the coast of Montauk Point, he was hooked. Whales became everything to Villano—at least until he realized he liked writing even more. Gradually, he figured out how to spend time studying both.

As an undergraduate at Northwestern University, he worked part-time for the marine mammal department at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and spent a summer volunteering for the International Wildlife Coalition in Florianopolis, Brazil. After receiving a bachelor of science in journalism, Villano worked as a naturalist with the Center for Oceanic Research and Education in Gloucester, Mass.

More recently, Villano has written about whales, whale researchers, and a host of other stuff for publications including The New York Times, Newsweek, Sunset, San Francisco Chronicle, Portfolio, Forbes, and CIO, to name a few. He lives in Healdsburg, Calif., with his wife, who is a professor of anthropology at Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, Calif. Villano’s other passions include running, reading, and teaching; learn more about him at