Michael AW

    Professional Accreditations

    MBIM Royal British Institute of Marketing (CIM)
    AAMI Australian Marketing Institute Associate
    AIMM Australian Institute of Management
    BA (Econ) Bristol  U.K.
    Honorary Technical Assistant - Queensland Museum 
    Honorary Associate - Australian Museum
    Senior Fellow International League of Conservation Photographer
    Fellow The Explorer Club 
    SCUBA Instructor Trainer NAUI # 11245L Life member
    International Scuba Instructor NAUI,CMAS,SSI

    Fellow Explorer Club NY –
    Senior Fellow International League of Underwater Photographers –


    Michael is a wildlife photographer, explorer and an ocean advocate. He is the principal author of 38 and co-author of eight books about the ocean. His accolades include winning more than 67 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, and in 2006 and 2015 he was the Winner of the Underwater Category. In 2013, he was awarded the NOGI AWARD for Arts and inducted into 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 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 work 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. see (

     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 2008, Stan Waterman conferred Michael with the Peter Benchley Shark Conservation Award from the Shark Research Institute in recognition of his highly-effective and unrelenting campaign against shark fin soup consumption in the Asia-Pacific region. Michael was also a recipient of the prestigious Wyland ICON award for Conservation in 2011. In 2012 he received the Diver of the Year Award at the Beneath the Sea Festival in New Jersey. In 2018, Michael was honoured with the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Chicago, Our Worlds’ Underwater Show.

     In 2020, for the second time Michael AW was a judge for the Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and as well judge for the Australian Geographic Wildlife Photographic competition.

     Michael AW is the founder of Asian Geographic and Ocean Geographic magazines, as well as OceanNEnvironment, a charity organization registered with Environment Australia. Beneath Bunaken (1993) was his first book and Our Ocean, Our Future, Palau, is his 38th. (

       Michael remains today, an active member of the Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and the Fellow International of The Explorer Club NY. Fellow  members include Sir Edmund Hillary, Roald Amundsen, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, David Doubilet, Emory Kristof, to name a few.


     Rave for Michael AW

    By Marcello Toja, MONDO Sommerso, Italy

     There is something rather mysterious in Michael AW’s mode of photography. I don’t think that it is due to the type of film he uses neither do I think that his works are bright as a result of his camera lenses, because, although he of course uses professional equipment, the same is done by thousands of photographers all over the world. So what is the reason for the difference, what is it that has brought this lad, a little Australian, and a little Chinese, to the top of the rank in this field worldwide?

     I have often said, when talking of photography, that every artist expresses himself: the painter paints his interior world, the poet describes his joy or sadness, while a photographer immortalizes himself. If you meet Michael Aw, you will notice that the first impression is one of brightness. His eyes, mirror of the soul, are bright, his face is bright, and his mode of behaviour likewise. Talking to him, one realizes that what was previously complex becomes simple, and problems either do not exist or can be solved.




    Published Work

    "Sharing with Sharks" - National Geographic In a surprising interaction at sea, colossal whale sharks home...
    Researchers believe there are more 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. While about 20% are...
    Thumbnail Michael AW – selected as one of 40 world’s Most Influential Nature’s Photographer Outdoor Photographers Read...
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    Latest News

    ‘began as an epic expedition to the high Arctic. The body of work produced by some of the world’s best...
    Report by Michael AW Together with Marie Levine of Sharks Research Institute,  I was at the 16th meeting of the...
    Premiere Exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum13 April to 3 November 2013. February 2010, a team...
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