Richard Ellis is one of America's leading marine conservationists, and is generally recognized as the foremost painter of marine natural history subjects in the world. His paintings of whales have appeared in Audubon, National Wildlife, Australian Geographic, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and numerous other national and international publications. His shark paintings have been featured in Sports Afield, Audubon, Sport Diver, Nautical Quarterly, Reader's Digest, and of course his own Book of Sharks, now in its seventh printing, and called the most popular book on sharks ever written. He has been asked to advise on many museum installations, and in 1978, he completed a 35-foot long whale mural for the Denver Museum of Natural History. His paintings have been exhibited at one-man and group shows from coast to coast. One hundred and six of his paintings were selected by the Smithsonian Institution to form a traveling exhibit of the marine mammals of the world, and these paintings are now in the permanent collection of Whaleworld, a museum in Albany, Western Australia. In 2005, in conjunction with the publication in Italian of his Encyclopedia of the Sea, Richard Ellis was given a one-man show of his drawings at the Museo del Mare in Genoa.
In addition to painting, Mr. Ellis is the author of more than eighty magazine articles, which have appeared in such journals as Geo, Audubon, Natural History, Animal Kingdom, Curator, Smithsonian, Science Digest, and National Geographic. He has been the subject of cover stories in American Artist, Ocean Realm, Wildlife Conservation,Yale's Discovery magazine, and his alumni magazine, the Pennsylvania Gazette. He has appeared in numerous television specials, and has written screenplays on whales for PBS. His research has taken him to Quebec, Baja California, Newfoundland, Hawaii, Bermuda, Nantucket, South Georgia, the Azores, Alaska, Patagonia, Japan, South Africa, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, the Faroes, the Galápagos, the Falklands, the Aleutians, the Commander Islands, the Kuriles, the Antarctic, Kamchatka, Spitsbergen and the North Pole. Mr. Ellis is a special adviser to the American Cetacean Society, a member of the Explorers Club, and a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History. From 1980 to 1990, he was a member of the U.S. delegation to the International Whaling Commission. Upon the 1980 publication of The Book of Whales, he embarked on a national lecture tour, which took him from Boston to Hawaii. Dolphins and Porpoises, the second volume of his comprehensive work on the cetaceans of the world, was published to universal critical acclaim in 1982. As of September 1986, he completed a 100-foot-long mural of Moby Dick for the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts, and in April of 1987, his illustrations of the seals and sea lions of the world were published by the National Geographic. In 1991, he published Great White Shark, co-authored by John McCosker, (Stanford University Press), and Men and Whales, published by Knopf. In 1993, he wrote and illustrated Physty, his first children's book, the true story of the successful rescue of a baby sperm whale. Monsters of the Sea was published in the fall of 1994, and Deep Atlantic appeared in 1996. Imagining Atlantis was published in July, 1998, with front page reviews in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times book reviews, and The Search for the Giant Squid appeared in October, 1998. A second mural for New Bedford, blue whale and dolphins, was installed in September, 2000. His Encyclopedia of the Sea was published by Knopf in October, 2000, and in 2001, Viking published Aquagenesis: The Origin and Evolution of Life in the Sea. In March, 2003, Island Press published The Empty Ocean, the sad story of the depletion of the world's marine resources, including fishes, sharks, whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, sea otters, sea cows, and coral reefs. He then published Sea Dragons: Predators of Prehistoric Oceans (University Press of Kansas), a study of the extinct marine reptiles; and in the fall of 2004, HarperCollins published No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species. In 2005, temporarily out of the water, Ellis wrote Tiger Bone & Rhino Horn: The Destruction of Wildlife for Traditional Chinese Medicine , and in 2006, Lyons Press published Singing Whales and Flying Squid: The Discovery of Marine Life. In 2007, he served as Curator of Dragons and Mythic Beasts for the American Museum of Natural History in New York.In April 2009, Abrams published Big Fish, a book of his drawings and paintings, and in October of this year, Knopf will publish On Thin Ice: The Changing World of the Polar Bear. His books have been translated into French, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish. and Korean.