Stories of Our Underwater Legends Expedition

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SOUL Expedition - 28 July - 7 Aug 2024

Join us for this very special expedition sharing with legends of the underwater world 

From USD 6880 (twin share)    .

Being called a Legend is a designation reserved for a small, select group of extraordinary humans. We remember the actions and achievements of renowned people of times passed – Joan of Arc, Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo – and we often wonder what it would have been like to meet them. Due to the relatively young nature of the scuba industry, we are incredibly lucky to still be sharing space and time with some diving Legends. This year in July, you will have the chance to share in their legacies.

From 28 July to 7 Aug, we shall embark together on the state-of-the-art dive vessel MV GAIA LOVE, on a voyage in Indonesia with the goal of documenting the life stories and messages that these celebrated diving pioneers want to pass on to future generations. Still actively working, exploring, and discovering, these incredibly busy humans hardly have time to sit still and write memoirs, so we will use the down time aka surface intervals during expedition to record their most valuable words. Sylvia Earle, Michael AW, David Doubilet, Jennifer Hayes, Richard Pyle, Brian Green, and ‘WHO ELSE’, will all be among the ocean greats in attendance. Together we will immortalize their words through photo, video, audio, and written word. Following the SOUL Expedition (Stories of Our Underwater Legends) the Ocean Geographic team will edit all the media assets gathered into a book, short film series and editorial features.

These outputs will be affordably accessible especially to the Next Generation to inspire the next Sylvia Earle, the next David Doubilet, the next Jennifer Hayes…

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The Expedition Platform – MV GAIA LOVE

The GAIA LOVE is a modern expedition vessel constructed in marine steel. The boutique styled purpose built liveaboard diving vessel explore the far-reach regions of Indonesia in comfort and style. Emphasis on divers’ comfort, needs and a bespoke experience on a dive expedition was top priority and hence the attention to details on all the amenities and design. With four decks of interior space, all incorporated in a contemporary setting, divers have the ultimate luxury of space. Within are six ensuite rooms on the upper deck and five ensuite rooms on the lowers deck, approximately 20 m2 in size. Upper deck rooms feature an additional private balcony. GAIA LOVE is equipped with State-of-the-art navigational enables safety of extended exploration at sea.

Expedition Route

Embarkation – Bali (28 July)

Moyo Island

Satonda Island

Sebayur Island

Sangeang Island

Gili Lawa Laut

Komodo-Flores Channel

Disembark - Labuan Bajo (7 Aug)

Expedition Rates:

Remaining spots for this expedition will be offered on a BID basis. Participant selection will be based on highest bids and specialized interest / expertise

Bid from USD 6880 based on twin share  (plus park fees USD 385 and fuel surcharge - cost to be advised)

Bid to Upgrade to Upper deck - bid from USD 500

Bid to Upgrade to Single Room - bid for Single Supplment from USD 6880


Full Board twin-share, Nitrox, 4 dives per day, Wi-fi.

Only 10 guests. Participants will be part of the production.


Join the SOUL Expedition and be part of the legacy to last long beyond our human lifetimes.

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Sylvia Earle PhD

Sylvia Earle is an American oceanographer, aquanaut, former chief scientist of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and author of over 200 publications about marine science and technology. She has led over 100 expeditions, logging more than 7,000 hours underwater. She has received more than 100 national and international honours. Sylvia Earle is often affectionately referred to as “Her Deepness.”

Sylvia attempted her first dive at age 16 using a diving helmet, since SCUBA gear was not yet invented.2 After high school, Earle earned a scholarship to Florida State University. She was enthusiastic and dedicated to learning as much as she could, often spending much of her time in the laboratories. She wanted a career where she could work in the ocean and study that world’s waters. In 1955, Earle graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in marine botany. But there were many challenges she would face to becoming a respected scientist.

Sylvia Earle lived during a time where a career in science was nearly impossible for women. But she didn’t let that stop her. Wanting to learn as much about the ocean’s as she could, she then pursued a master’s degree at Duke University in North Carolina. She earned her Master’s Degree in marine botany in 1956. Her focus: algae. Over the next several years, Earle focused her dives, drawings, and recordings on the algae specimen she collected. She studied the waters they lived in and the creatures and plants that survived off of them. These samples and records would become a large contribution to the study of marine science. She married Jack Taylor in 1957, and they went on to have two children. In 1964, Sylvia got an exciting research opportunity. She became part of a team that would travel to the Indian Ocean to study and learn about life within them.3 It would not be easy though. It was a six-week expedition and she would be the only female on a ship of seventy crew members.4 But for a once in a lifetime chance such as this, Sylvia Earle would let nothing stop her.

In 1964, Sylvia Earle joined the National Science Foundation sponsored International Indian Ocean Expedition on board the research vessel Anton Bruun.5 At this time, it was still frowned upon for a woman to be onboard a ship, especially one filled with men. But Earle ignored what others thought, and wanted to be a part of this expedition. SCUBA gear allowed her, and the other divers to fully immerse themselves with sea life. Earle did regular dives throughout the Indian Ocean, going deeper than she had previously. Her time aboard Anton Bruun took her to several places throughout the Indian Ocean region near East Africa including: the Comoros, Aldabra, the Seychelles, the Farquhar Islands, Nairobi, Mombasa, Cairo. It also brought her to Athens, Greece; and Rome, Italy in Europe.6

At Comoro Islands, off the southeast coast of Africa, she encountered sea turtles, parrotfish, sponges, and different types of coral. During one dive, she discovered a new bright pink plant they had never seen. Since Earle was the first to discover it, she got to name it. She named this new plant Humbrella after her mentor and teacher, Dr. Harold Humm.7 Over the next two years, Earle would go on four more research expeditions on the Anton Brunn. In 1966, Earle got her PhD. from Duke University and then became a Research Fellow at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts.

It was not long after that Sylvia learned about a new opportunity that would change her life, and bring her closer to the under sea world than ever before. In 1969, the US government was working on a project called Tektite. It was named for the pieces of green glass from space that are found in the sea. The Tektite project would allow scientists to live and work under the sea. The Tektite I housed a group of four male scientists called aquanauts. They were underwater for 60 days, beating the previous 30-day world record for time spent underwater. When a Tektite II project was planned, Earle was asked to lead an all-female team. In 1970, Tektite II was launched with an all-female crew, lead by Sylvia Earle, known as “Mission 6.” The Tektite II laboratory was located near the US Virgin Islands. Sylvia Earle and her team lived here for two weeks. They also had SCUBA gear which they used to explore the ocean around them. They made several discoveries, and studied the sea life and creatures around them. Overall, they documented 154 species of marine plants, including 26 species not yet discovered in the Virgin Islands.8 On September 19, 1979, Sylvia Earle set a world untethered diving record. Wearing an atmospheric suit called a JIM suit, she descended to a depth of 1,250 feet beneath the surface of the Pacific off the coast of the island of Oahu. This earned her the title of “Her Deepness.”

Sylvia Earle continues to advance research in marine biology still today. Her contributions to learning more about the oceans, and our need to protect them are countless. Earle broke down barriers during a time when women did not usually work in science. In 1990, she became the first female chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). She served in this position until 1992. She is founder of Mission Blue and the SEAlliance, Chair of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (DOER). She has also been an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society since 1998. Her honours and awards number in the hundreds. She remains a champion and defender of the ocean, writing books on what we can do to continue preserving the life within them. Sylvia Earle remains a renowned scientist and explorer still today, and is a living legend.

Sylvia’s pioneering research has revolutionized our understanding of marine ecosystems and their vulnerability to human activities. Her accomplishments have elevated her status as a renowned scientist and inspired countless individuals to join the fight for a more sustainable future.

She has received 27 honorary degrees and more than 100 Honors from around the world. Some of the most notable awards include Time magazine’s first Hero for the Planet (1998), the United Nations Champion of the Earth (2014), and the 2009 TED Prize.  Earle is the president and Chairman of the Mission Blue/Sylvia Earle Alliance, an ocean advocacy group. Their most recent effort is to develop a global network of “Hope Spots,” dedicated to protecting the biodiversity on which Earth’s interconnected ecosystems depend, particularly in light of the accelerating threat of climate change.

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David Doubilet

 David Doubilęt is an underwater photographer known primarily for his work published in National Geographic magazine, where he is a contributing photographer and has been an author for 70 feature articles since 1971. He was born in New York City and started taking photos underwater at the young age of 12. He started with a Brownie Hawkeye in a rubber anesthesiologist's bag to keep the water out of the camera. He lived with his family in New York City and spent summers in Elberon New Jersey exploring the Atlantic . He later worked as a diver and photographer for the Sandy Hook Marine Laboratories in New Jersey and spent much of his youth in the Caribbean as a teenage dive instructor in the Bahamas where he found his motivation to capture the beauty of the sea and everything in it. Doubilet's passion for underwater photography is inspired by environmentalism: "The desire to make an image that makes people think about, fall in love with, and protect the sea."

His goal as a photographer is to "redefine photographic boundaries" every time he enters the water. "We always try to add one more step, one more piece of vision, one more piece of technology. Where technology meets dreams, you make photographs," he explained during a 2011 interview. "How can I illustrate this? How can I make this picture something more than what we see, something more exciting and put it on the page that incorporates the poetry, and the environment, and the atmosphere of a place that you're shooting? I think that that's the biggest challenge."

In order to capture underwater wildlife, he takes several cameras, lenses and underwater strobes (flash systems) on each of his trips, primarily Nikon digital SLRs with ultra wide angle and Micro (macro) lenses, Sea & Sea strobes and SeaCam housings. Doubilet was one of the pioneers of underwater photography in respect to the split field image technique also called over/under images that include elements both above and below water in a single image, with both rendered in focus. This calls for an ultra wide angle lens used at a small aperture in a housing with a dome (not flat) port.

He has shot nearly 70 stories for National Geographic since his first assignment in 1971 about garden eels in the Red Sea. (Some of the articles were written and illustrated jointly with wife and photographic partner Jennifer Hayes, an aquatic biologist and photojournalist specializing in natural history and marine environments). He has authored 12 books to date, including David Doubilet: Water Light Time (Phaidon Press, 2016) which includes images made over the past 25 years. Doubilet's most recently published major assignment - completed with Jennifer Hayes - was a photo shoot in Cuban waters, which was published as Changing Cuba: The Caribbean's Crown Jewels, in the November 2016 issue of the magazine. The locations of other significant assignments over the past few years include the Great Barrier Reef, the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Doubilet is a founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers. He has received many awards for his works, such as The Explorers Club's Lowell Thomas Awards and the Lennart Nilsson Award for scientific photography (2001) Archived 2007-07-01 at the Wayback Machine and others from the BBC, POY, and the American Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award. In 2000, Doubilet was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society. The latter is awarded to "distinguished persons having, from their position or attainments, an intimate connection with the science or fine art of photography or the application thereof."

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Michael AW

Michael AW transitioned from a successful career in advertising and marketing, working with esteemed international agencies in Australia, the USA, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, to become a dedicated ocean advocate and accomplished wildlife photographer. During his marketing years, he handled major corporate clients like De Beers, Heinz, Revlon, Lanvin, Dunhill, Citizen watch, Sanyo, Toyota, and Cathay Pacific Airlines.

In 1993 the ocean beckoned and he authored the first high quality book of the Ocean for Indonesia’s Bunaken Marine Park in North Sulawesi. ‘Beneath Bunaken’ received the accolade as Indonesia official Gift of State for Indonesia by Minister Joop Ave and given to all dignitaries at the 1994 Asian Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) meeting by President Suharto. As consequent, Beneath Bunaken kickstart Michael’s professional underwater photography career.   

However, the success of "Beneath Bunaken" led to an unintended consequence – a surge in tourism causing environmental degradation in Bunaken. To address this, Michael actively engaged in scientific assessments of the biodiversity of Bunaken Marine Park, contributing to the development of several sustainable management initiatives. In 1998, he founded OceanNEnvironment Ltd, a non-profit organization dedicated to conservation projects in the Indo Pacific region. Additionally, Michael is the founder of Asian Geographic (1998) and Ocean Geographic (2007).

In February 2023, he orchestrated the ACE2023 climate expedition, assembling a diverse team of experts from 20 nations to document the state of the Antarctic. This initiative resulted in eight resolutions for transformative change towards achieving a net-zero planet by 2035. The pictures, music documentaries and resolutions from the expedition premiered in June 2023 at the Melting Ice, Sinking Cities exhibition at the CDL Green Gallery, Botanical Garden, Singapore.  

Since 1993, Michael has been the principal author and photographer of 39 books on the ocean. His achievements include over 68 international photographic awards and recognition as one of the world's most influential nature photographers by Outdoor Photographer. Michael's work has been featured in prominent publications such as BBC Wildlife, GEO, National Geographic, The Smithsonian, Nature, Ocean Geographic, Asian Geographic, Nature Focus, Times, and Discovery.

Among his numerous accolades, Michael received five awards from the Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, including two wins in the Underwater Category (2006 and 2015). In 2013, he was honoured with the NOGI AWARD for Arts and inducted into the fellowship of the American Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences. His book "Indonesia’s Global Treasures" won the Palme d’Or (Gold) International Prize for Best Book of the Year in 2012, making him the first to achieve this recognition twice; the first was for Heart of the Ocean in 2009.

In 1999, Michael led a groundbreaking expedition documenting a submerged reef, Maaya Thila in the Maldives, resulting in the production of the documentary "24 Hours Beneath the Rainbow Sea" for the National Geographic Channel. 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.

From 2010 to 2018, Michael served as the project director for the Elysium Epic expeditions to the Antarctic and Arctic, leading teams to document biodiversity and climate change. In 2018, he organized an expedition across the Coral Triangle, conducting a first-ever baseline survey of coral biomass, fishes, and microplastic assessment.

Notably, Michael received the Peter Benchley Shark Conservation Award in 2008 for his impactful campaign against shark fin soup consumption in the Asia-Pacific region. He also received the ICON Award for Conservation in 2011 and the Diver of the Year Award at the Beneath the Sea Festival in New Jersey in 2012.

In an effort to reshape the negative perception of sharks and shed light on misconceptions surrounding the unsustainable shark trade, Michael AW undertook the production and direction of the film "Facing Grace" in 2018. Starring Hong Kong actress Hidy Yu, the movie was released in Greater China in the same year and garnered an impressive audience, amassing over 77 million views on two prominent social media platforms in China.

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Jennifer Hayes

Jennifer Hayes is an aquatic biologist and photojournalist focusing on freshwater and ocean environments from the tropics to the polar regions. She is a contributing photographer, videographer, author and speaker for National Geographic Partners. Jennifer grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York and began observing aquatic life in the ponds, creeks and nearby Lake Ontario with a mask, snorkel and her horse. Obsessed with what was happening below the surface and out of her sight, she learned how to dive at age 14 and has since spent over 11,000 hours beneath the surface.

Her aquatic career began in the biological sciences. Her passion for elasmobranchs and living primitive fishes lead to graduate degrees in zoology and marine ecology documenting shark finning and commercial shark landings in the North West Atlantic under professor Dr. Eugenie Clark (aka the Shark Lady) at the University of Maryland, College Park. After a tenure as a Washington DC Aquatic Environmental Consultant, she returned to field research. Her doctoral studies at State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry focused on telemetry, habitat, and population dynamics of sturgeon, a threatened group of fishes clinging by a thread to this planet due to habitat loss and harvest for caviar markets. As adjunct faculty, she taught comparative anatomy, evolution and fisheries biology. Her interest in science communication and conservation of endangered species was a catalyst to reach beyond research to share science through storytelling and images.

Jennifer is an award-winning photographer (Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Siena Awards, Communication Arts, Natures Best), contributor, editor and author of numerous publications and books on marine environments. She is a recipient of the SUNY ESF Presidents Medal for natural history, a trustee of the Shark Research Institute, Explorer Club National Fellow, Honorary editor and contributor or Ocean Geographic Magazine and Principal Photographer for Elysium Artists for Antarctic, Arctic Expeditions and Coral Triangle Expeditions. Her work has been featured on NPR, CNN, ABC Good Morning America, National Geographic TV, Wild and Disney Channel. Jennifer is a speaker for the National Geographic Live Series presenting Coral Kingdoms and Empires of Ice to an international audience. Jennifer believes that as stakeholders in the storytelling of Earth we need to bring hard and sometimes seemingly hopeless truths to the table but it is equally important that we share hope, beauty, resilience and science. We need investors in change and investors need hope. She is committed to promoting collaboration in ocean storytelling and providing a voice and platform for the Next-Generation Ocean. As a journalist, Jennifer discovered that you can leave a story but some stories do not leave you –She remains embedded in long-form storytelling in decade-plus commitment to Sturgeon: conservation, caviar and keeping the dinosaur fish swimming and Harp Seals in the Gulf of St Lawrence: A Nursery on Thin Ice.


Richard L. Pyle PhD

Dr. Richard L. Pyle is the Director of Natural Sciences and Senior Curator of Ichthyology at Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu. He received his PhD in 2003 under his advisor Dr. John E. “Jack” Randall, and his primary research interest is to explore and document Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems (coral-reef habitat at depths of 30-200 meters, also known as the coral-reef ‘Twilight Zone’). He has led and supported over 80 research expeditions around the tropical Indo-Pacific, with particular emphasis on the discovery of new species of fishes and other organisms, and documenting patterns of biogeography and depth distributions. Richard’s other focus is the development of computer database systems, primarily to manage systematic and biogeographic information. He is an active participant in international groups that develop standards for biodiversity information management and exchange. He is also a Commissioner and Counselor for the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), and he conceived, developed and maintains ZooBank (; the official online register for scientific publications and names under the ICZN), among other biodiversity data systems.

Richard has published over 200 scientific, technical and popular articles and chapters on ichthyology, diving technology, and biodiversity data; given over 260 public presentations (including two TED talks); posted dozens of blogs (including one of the first-ever real-time scientific expedition blogs in 1997, and several others published by the New York Times); has been featured in over 50 film projects (IMAX, National Geographic, BBC, Discovery Channel, and others); has been profiled in over 50 published articles (including the cover-feature of Science); received dozens of awards (including a GEnius Award and Best and Brightest award from Esquire Magazine, and the prestigious “NOGI” award for science from the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences); and has served in dozens of roles for organizations focused on research, exploration, technology and international data standards.

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Brian Green

Brian D. Greene is an Ichthyology Research Specialist, Diving Safety Officer and Director of Expeditions for EXCORE at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii.  He enjoyed an unusual upbringing at Kwajalein Atoll, the largest coral atoll in the world and a place unique for its contrasting cultures, natural history and advanced technologies related to U.S. national defence. There he developed an early passion for coral reef fishes and exploration, which has led to a career in fish biology with scientific expeditions throughout Micronesia and the greater Indo-Pacific. This passion evolved into the pioneering use of advanced diving technologies for the exploration of deep mesophotic coral ecosystems with his team at Bishop Museum resulting in the discovery of dozens of fish species new to science, including the recently described Tosanoides annepatrice, from Pohnpei, FSM, named in honour of his mother.

Brian’s efforts have included coordinating and fielding scientific expeditions throughout the Indo-Pacific with the Bishop Museum, University of Hawaii, the California Academy of Sciences, NOAA, and the BBC as well as building relationships with local partners throughout the region.

A former Vision Research Phantom High Speed Camera operator, Brian has adapted high-end, high resolution digital cinema cameras to capture exploratory dives on deep coral-reefs in unprecedented detail.  This record plays an invaluable role not only in the taxonomic work of describing new species, but also as a record of the current state of deep coral-reefs as part of the EXCORE and Digital Futures initiatives at Bishop Museum.

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