The Singapore Premiere of Elysium Epic Trilogy

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Three Epic Expeditions to the Antarctic, Arctic & Coral Triangle

The Singapore Premiere of Elysium Epic Trilogy Public Exhibition & Symposium featuring Dr Sylvia Earle, David Doubilet, Michael AW, Alex Rose and Prof Ben Horton 15 August 2019


Produced by Ocean Geographic, the Elysium Epic Trilogy aims to raise awareness of climate change and plastic pollution using the combined powers of art and science. The premiere in Singapore shall be the first to present a specially curated exhibition of the finest pictures from the three Elysium Epic expeditions to the Antarctic, Arctic and Coral Triangle in 2010, 2015 and 2018 respectively, together with presentations and a symposium by industry experts and scientists.

Principal Partners
City Developments Limited : Rolex Singapore: Shaw Theatres : Ocean Geographic
Earth Observatory of Singapore at NTU, Ocean Geographic Society

Faces of Global Warming: the Elysium Epic Trilogy SG Premiere
by Dr Sylvia Earle, Michael AW, David Doubilet, Jennifer Hayes and Alex Rose
15 August: 6:00 pm @ Lido Theatres (Shaw Theatres) level 6

To attend book tickets at:


Melting Ice & Plastic Seas Symposium
Keynote: Dr Sylvia Earle
Forum with Dr Sylvia Earle, David Doubilet, Michael AW, Alex Rose, Jennifer Hayes, Prof Benjamin Horton
16 August: 3: 30pm @ Nanyang Technological University @ LT19A (registration at 3pm)

Elysium Epic Trilogy Exhibition – specially curated pictures from the three Antarctic, Arctic and Coral Triangle expeditions
15 August to 1 September @ Lido Theatres (Shaw Theatres) level 6. (Free)
Official Launch @ 5pm: 15 August (by invitation only)

The SG premiere will be attended by five principal expedition members. In partnership with Rolex Singapore, City Developments Limited (CDL), and the Earth Observatory of Singapore at NTU, features Elysium’s chief expedition scientist Dr Sylvia Earle, NOAA’s first female chief scientist, TIMES first Hero of our Planet, and National Geographic Explorer in Residence. Also headlining the event is Michael AW, Founder of ELYSIUM EPIC and Ocean Geographic; principal photographers for ELYSIUM EPIC David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes of National Geographic; and Elysium project Alex Rose, the Science Editor of Ocean Geographic. This premiere also feature contribution of six expedition members from Singapore. The SG premiere venue is partly sponsored by Shaw Industries.

The mission of Elysium Epic is combined the power of arts and science to inspire love and greater care of our natural world. In the words of Dr Sylvia Earle, “ELYSIUM EXPEDITIONS go beyond traditional ocean explorations by enlisting scientists, musicians and other artists to use their combined powers of precision, discipline, vision and sensitivity to BRING OCEAN ISSUES TO THE ATTENTION OF PEOPLE GLOBALLY, to inspire them to cherish Earth’s natural wonders.”

Michael AW, project founder, explains, “The exhibition is a showcase of the most inspiring pictures of our planet by some of the world’s best artists and photographers”. The Elysium Epic Trilogy exhibition opens on 15 August in the foyer of Lido Theatres (Shaw) and runs until 1 September. This exhibition features the finest selection of images from the three expeditions, specially curated by Gemma Ward of the Natural History Museum, UK. For the first time, the set of three limited edition books from the expedition will also be launched at the Singapore premiere.

Faces of Global Warming: the Elysium Epic Trilogy presentation by Dr Sylvia Earle, Michael AW, David Doubilet, Jennifer Hayes and Alex Rose, is the main event of the Singapore premiere. This session takes the audience to the frontlines of climate change, invites them behind the scenes, and showcases short films produced from the expeditions.

Staged in conjunction with the premiere is the Melting Ice & Plastic Ocean Symposium, hosted by the Earth Observatory of Singapore at NTU. It includes keynote presentations by Dr Sylvia Earle, Michael AW, David Doubilet, Jennifer Hayes and Professor Ben Horton as well as discussions with science experts and ocean advocates.

Highlights for Elysium Epic premiere include the announcement of Mission Blue’s HOPE SPOT in Singapore, the introduction of DEEP HOPE, Dr Sylvia Earle’s next exploration project for the deep ocean, and the induction of Dr Earle into the Earth Observatory of Singapore’s Scientific Advisory Board.

The EET Singapore premiere will also introduce Sam Shu Qin, who participated in the Elysium: Heart of the Coral Triangle expedition in 2018 as winners of the CDL E-Generation Challenge. This challenge is an annual competition organized by CDL, in partnership with GGEF and OCBC Bank Singapore, to encourage and empower youths to come up with solutions for climate change. Winners of the Challenge are awarded a chance to participate in high profile expeditions to learn from the best climate explorers and scientists in their fields.

Like many great endeavours, Elysium began with a dream. It was a dream to call upon the masters to be in one place together, to share their artistic and scientific interpretations of the natural world in ways that could connect with the hearts and minds of anyone and everyone, inspiring understanding and protection for our blue planet. And so was born the idea of a project, a project to be a legacy: Elysium Epic.

What started as plans for an expedition to Antarctica, soon blossomed into the blueprints for a trilogy of journeys to explore some of Earth’s most unique and important regions. The first trek ventured to Antarctica in 2010, the second to the Arctic in 2015, and the third to the Coral Triangle in 2018. The unifying mission statement of Elysium is to utilize the perspectives and specialties of a diverse group of global citizens to inspire a greater understanding of and appreciation for nature, while drawing attention to the impacts of climate change. This has been achieved through an ever-expanding series of books, presentations and exhibitions.

The Elysium Epic project is the brainchild of internationally renowned underwater photographer and conservationist, Michael AW. Together with a core group of colleagues and explorers who recognise that global warming is intimately related to oceanic change, Michael has been the driving force of Elysium since its inception. The intellect of Dr Sylvia Earle, combined with the classic vision of Ernie Books, and the photographic prowess of David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes, have played integral roles in shaping Elysium. Together, they have realised a dream that will inspire people for generations to come.

The ocean plays an essential role in regulating global climate and regional temperature, and is crucial to controlling the carbon, oxygen, and water cycles of the planet. Our oceans are a vital part of the complex geophysical and biochemical systems that support life on Earth.

The exchange of cold and warm water that takes place at the poles is a key driver of oceanic thermohaline circulation around the globe, ultimately controlling the world’s climate. The Elysium Epic projects therefore targeted the poles first in an effort to tell the story of the changes happening there.

The Elysium Antarctic Visual Epic (2010) was inspired and informed by the incredible journey of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition launched in 1914. Shackleton is widely regarded as one of the last great heroes in the golden age of exploration, but without his expedition photographer, Frank Hurley, the world would have never known the story of what was simultaneously both a monumental failure and spectacular success. Such is the strength of visual imagery. One hundred years after the Endurance sank beneath the ice-covered Southern Ocean, Michael’s team of 57 Elysium explorers returned to Antarctica to relive and retell the Shackleton saga with new eyes and new information.

Antarctic ice core samples have shown a huge rise in carbon dioxide and methane, unprecedented increases never before seen in the human history of Earth. Populations of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), the shrimp-like animal at the centre of the Antarctic food web, have declined by 80% since the 1970s. The waters of the Antarctic Peninsula, a key breeding ground for the krill, have warmed by 3°C in the last 50 years; that is five times greater than the world average. As krill populations decline, Chinstrap and Gentoo penguin colonies have also decreased by as much as 30% to 66%. Pointe Geologie, the Emperor penguin colony featured in the 2005 film March of the Penguins, has since declined by 70%. Off the Antarctic Peninsula, from which this Elysium Epic began, sea ice now covers 40% less area than it did 30 years ago. If current warming trends continue, environmental catastrophe is imminent. This is why it was critical to produce the imageries of Elysium Epic, with the mission to reveal the magnificence of the Antarctic.

Elysium Artists for the Arctic expedition in 2015, was inspired by Sir Hubert Wilkins, an intrepid explorer and brilliant visionary of the 1930s. Wilkins was a nature photographer, war correspondent, polar explorer, naturalist, geographer, aviator, and man of many “firsts”. He was the first to cross the Canadian Arctic on skis, the first to film a WWI battle from the air, the first to fly to and conduct a geological survey of the Antarctic, and the first to fly across the Arctic from Point Barrow, Alaska to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway. The New York Times dubbed this “the greatest flight in history”. But most impressively, Wilkins was the first to recognise that the Polar Regions control the Earth’s climate. Twenty-four years before the first human reached space, he suggested that if we were able to put ourselves outside the Earth and study it as a whole, we would see the dramatic effect that the poles had on global climate patterns. Wilkins noticed that the sea ice was receding long before the rest of the world had grasped the concept of global warming. Decades later, we would wake up to the reality that Wilkins had already known long before.

The Arctic is the most rapidly warming region on Earth. Surface temperatures in the Arctic are increasing at a rate about two times quicker than the rest of the world. Sea ice is melting fast; over the space of the last decade, climate science is showing a decrease of about 5% of average sea ice cover per decade. As Arctic sea ice gets thinner and scarcer, the multitude of creatures that depend upon its existence and stability for their well-being are facing increasing jeopardy. This includes plankton, polar bears, sea birds, whales, pinnipeds, and fish. Vanishing sea ice and glaciers are just the beginning of an imminent climate crisis and are an indication that we need to act now in order to prevent further irreparable damage to our planet.

For the final chapter in the Elysium Trilogy, Heart of the Coral Triangle, our team headed to Raja Ampat, Indonesia, in 2018. The exceptional level of biodiversity here has been well-recognized since the 1850s when famed naturalist and evolutionary biologist Alfred Russel Wallace travelled through the Malay Archipelago (Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia) collecting specimens and studying natural history. His keen observations of the significant zoological differences in species between Asia and Australia led to the designation of the Wallace Line: a boundary that delineates Australian and Southeast Asian fauna. While his discoveries pertained to terrestrial ecosystems, it is undeniable that he would have been equally stunned by the range of marine life had he been able to study it in the same way.

Climate departure in the tropics is expected to take place in 2020. Climate Departure is a point of no return – where abnormal becomes normal. Unprecedented climates will occur earliest in the tropics and among low-income countries, highlighting the vulnerability of global biodiversity, coral reefs, and governmental capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change. The findings shed light on the urgency of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions if climates potentially harmful to biodiversity and society are to be prevented.

This expedition of 49 to Indonesia created a comprehensive and compelling artistic portrait of the heart of the Coral Triangle, and documented its current ecological wellbeing scientifically. This third instalment of Elysium manifested a magnificent collection of sights, sounds, and information that will be treasured by future generations. It will bring the beauty of this crucial region to the attention of the world, inspire action to mitigate climate change, and yield vital baseline data for measuring future climate change effects on the Coral Triangle.

No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Together we are part of the whole and collectively, we can make better choices and work towards a bluer, more sustainable future.

All three Elysium Epic expeditions have been carbon neutral. Proceeds from all book sales contribute to Elysium Exhibitions worldwide and the Ocean Geographic SAVE OUR SEAS Fund.

*Elysium Epic Trilogy World Premiere was on 22 April 2019 in Beijing, follow by Shanghai and Chengdu, 25 and 27 April, respectively.

About the CDL E-Generation Challenge.
The Challenge is an annual competition organised by CDL, in partnership with GGEF and OCBC Bank Singapore, to encourage and empower youths to come up with urgent solutions against climate change. Winners of the Challenge will be awarded a chance to participate in high profile expeditions to learn from the best climate explorers and scientists in their fields. In 2017, Jessica Cheam, founder of media platform Eco-Business, and Singaporean singer Inch Chua participated in the expedition with OBE Robert Swan to Antarctica. This year, two winners travelled to the Arctic with an expedition team led by OBE Robert Swan to understand the effects of climate change in the North Pole.

About Shaw Industries
Shaw Industries, (unrelated to Shaw Organisation), was founded by Howard Shaw, an environmental biologist by training and a participant in the Elysium series of expeditions. Shaw Industries is a company dedicated to a sustainable future and investments. The company takes a long-term approach to the challenge of sustainability particularly in issues such as healthcare, food production and energy, all in light of global population projections and risk. At the same time, Shaw Industries realises the need to raise awareness and nurture the community on environmental and societal issues, which is why it supporting this exhibition.



Day 10 - Mola Mola Team

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Coral UV Photo by Aaron Halstead

Day 10 -Daily Log - Mola Mola Team

Date: October 10, 2018

Boat location: Dampier

Dive sites: Sauwenderek Jetty (0730), Cape Kri (1100)

Weather conditions: Sunny, clear skies

Our last day on the boat, we're all determined to make this a memorable evening! The team cleaned out the alcohol supply on the boat, all the beer, gin and whisky. We had to buy an additional supply from a friendly neighbour too (thanks Gaia)! Oh and we did some diving, on our way back south at Sauwenderek Jetty and Cape Kri. Sweetlips galore, and turtles all around. Bid our farewells to a couple of the pontohi pygmies and on our way back to dock in Sorong tonight. Until next time, Raja Ampat!


Photo by Andreas Jaschek

Day 10 - Daily Log - Damai II

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Isopods hitch-hiking on humphead bannerfish. © Sally Vogel

Daily log – Day 10 DAMAI II

Date: 9 October 2018

Boat location(s): Batanta

Dive sites: Algae Patch 2, Algae Patch 2 / Ernie’s Corner, Algae Patch 2 (Night dive)

Weather conditions: Sunny and smooth waves (0.1 – 0.5 m high)

General notes:

“Happy hunting!” That was it from Irene, our cruise director, for our first dive briefing of the day. It was muck diving day! The visibility (about 15 m) was great and it probably made finding critters slightly easier. The team, with the help of dive guides and their satay sticks to mark out cryptic animals, managed to find many nudibranchs, sea slugs and even anemone fish eggs among the black sand!

Divers descending near area an abandoned burlap sack. © Emry Oxford

The team returned to the same dive site in the afternoon while the researchers checked out the reef next to it. Irene said the reef has not been named so the science team named it Ernie’s Corner after our photography legend Ernie! The reefscape was a surprise! We definitely did not expect such a vibrant fish and coral communities at a muck diving site. However, there were signs that we were nearing civilisation. Fishing lines, abandoned burlap bags, food wrappers were in the waters – around corals and in between reef crevices. Despite the presence of marine debris, Sam and Renato chose a nice spot and did their respective fish and coral surveys along with Emry and Sabrina. After sightings of crown-of-thorn sea stars, Sam spotted a group of coral-eating violet coral shell (Coralliophia violacea) on a Porites coral! While snorkelling, Sally and Ernie found some parasites getting a free ride (or lunch!) from the fishes. Sarah-Jo and Brett did another plastic trawl during surface interval and we are all expecting to see more debris in the analysis!

Violet coral shell, Coralliophia violacea, munching on Porites coral. © Sam Shu Qin

We then ended the day with a night dive in search for wonderpus and blue ring octopus. No octopuses to be found but there were strong currents, spanish dancers, and a frogfish!

An Acropora coral with white band disease. © Ernest Brooks

Soft coral, hard coral or Phyllodesmium? © Deon Viljoen


Did someone lose his shoe? © Emry Oxford





Day 10 - Daily Log - Gaia Love

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Manta © Richard Meng

Daily Log - Day 10 - Gaia Love

Date: October 9, 2018

Boat location: Batanta and Dampier Strait Dive site: Pulau Dayang (A28), Cape Kri (A29), Sawandarek (A30), Channel (Blackwater - A31)

Weather conditions: Sunny and cloudy


Our first dive in Pulau Dayang was a shallow dive at 15-20m. The site is known to be a cleaning station for mantas, and the prediction did not disappoint: two reef mantas glided by, one mid-dive and another towards the end.

Gaia Love then travelled to the second dive, Cape Kri, famous for its school of sweetlips at 40m and infamous for its ripping and whirlpool currents. The sweetlips were there where they were expected to be. The currents changed constantly, which was an enabling environment for a wobbegong, a school of jacks and barracuda, blacktip and whitetip reef sharks, and Napoleon wrasse to say hi. Divers resurfaced far from where they were dropped off.

Sweetlips © Fabian Schorp

During the third dive, our resident artist Arica Hilton had an underwater photo shoot with other divers from Gaia Love. The other groups proceeded to Sawandarek, a dive site underneath a jetty of a village. From the boat, it looked like a sleepy, nondescript area, but the first few minutes in the site already showed off a school of sweetlips at 5 meters. There were schools of unicornfish, snappers, silver sides, and jacks. There was also a lobster hiding under a reef and a hawksbill turtle that seemed to be confused whether it would take a breath or stay down.

In Sawandarek, Cass’s strobe diffuser fell off without her noticing.

She continued taking photos and saw David swimming towards her. She thought David was trying to model for her, until she saw what was on top of his head – her diffuser!

After dinner, a smaller dive group proceeded to a blackwater dive, the fourth dive for the day and the last night dive for the trip!

When the night divers returned to Gaia Love, the transit to Mioskon began.

Blackwater Dive © Richard Meng