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Michael Aw

Expedition Director & Steering Committee Ambassador

Michael AW is the founder of Asian Geographic (1998), Ocean Geographic (2007), as well as OceanNEnvironment(1998), a charity organization registered with Environment Australia. Before becoming an ocean advocate, explorer, and one of our world’s most published underwater photographers, Michael has worked in mainstream advertising agencies for 15 years.
Since 1993, MICHAEL has been credited as PRINCIPAL AUTHOR AND PHOTOGRAPHER OF 39 BOOKS ABOUT THE OCEAN. His accolades include winning more than 68 international photographic awards and being named as one of the world’s most influential nature photographers by Outdoor Photographer. Michael AW’s essays and pictures have been published in BBC Wildlife, GEO, National Geographic, The Smithsonian, Nature, Ocean Geographic, Asian Geographic, Nature Focus, The Times, and Discovery to name a few.

He has proudly received four awards from the Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition; in 2006 and 2015 he was the Winner of the Underwater Category. In 2013, he won the NOGI AWARD for Arts and was inducted into the fellowship of the American Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences.

In 2012, Michael’s book Indonesia’s Global Treasures won the Palme d’Or (Gold) International Prize for Best Book of the Year at the World Festival of Underwater Pictures in France (Festival Mondial de l’Image Sous-Marine). Michael is the first to have won this prestigious award twice; the first was for Heart of the Ocean in 2009. This artistic book category presented entries from a host of international authors and photographers including books published by media powerhouses from the UK, Germany, Singapore, USA, and France. In 2010, he won the prestigious Gold Diver award for the highly contested Portfolio category at the World Festival of Underwater Pictures in France. It was the first-ever for an Asian to win this category.

In 1999, he led a team of 44 for the world’s first 24-hour documentation of a submerged reef, Maaya Thila in the Maldives. The feature-length documentary “24Hours Beneath the Rainbow Sea” was produced for the National Geographic Channel and a commemorative book of the same title was published in 2000.

From 2010 to 2018 Michael was the project director for the Elysium Epic expedition to the Antarctic and Arctic with 57 and 66 team members respectively. The expedition team comprises some of the world’s most influential image-makers and scientists, to document the biodiversity and climate change report card of the polar regions. His most recent multi-disciplinary project was in September of 2018; he led a team of 49, using three vessels for an expedition across the heart of the Coral Triangle for a first-ever baseline survey of the biomass of corals and fishes in the region.