Ambassadors Michael AW

Michael Aw


Michael is a wildlife photographer, explorer and conservationist.

He has written 37 books about the ocean to date.

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.

Since 2010, Michael has been the project director of the Elysium Epic expeditions. From the Antarctic (2010) to the Arctic (2015), he brought 66 team members comprised of the world’s best image makers and scientists and tasked them with documenting the flora and fauna of these regions with the goal of creating a climate change index. His most recent work was in September of 2018 when 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.

He has proudly received five 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 International Prize for Best Book of the Year at the World Festival of Underwater Pictures in France (Festival Mondial de l’Image Sous Marine). 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. Global Treasures received the Palme d’Or (Gold) award. Michael is the first to have won this prestigious award twice; the first was for Heart of the Ocean in 2009.

In 2010, he won the the prestigious Gold Diver award for the highly contested Portfolio category at the World Festival of Underwater Pictures in France. This was the first time an Asian won in 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, and in 2012 he was conferred with the Diver of the Year Award at the Beneath the Sea Festival in New Jersey.

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

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 Elysium – Heart of the Coral Triangle, is his 37th.