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Frequent flyer: Michael Aw

TIME : 2016/2/26 18:10:32

This photographer and environmentalist is about to lead an expedition to Antarctica.

Q Describe your next expedition, which will retrace the footsteps of polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

A We will begin in Ushuaia [Argentina] and sail south into the Weddell Sea. There are 57 team members (scientists, filmmakers, photographers and historians among them) and 20 ship crew. We will document the fauna and flora along the route - above and below the water. Surveys, photos and videos of ice shelf, glaciers, icebergs, penguins, seals and seabirds will be collated into a publicly accessible climate-change index. We will also produce a high-quality book as a tribute to Sir Ernest Shackleton and a feature-length documentary.

Q What do you think sustained Shackleton on his expedition in 1914?

A Leadership, survival skills, team spirit and the bounty of food available to them from the sea.

Q How did underwater photography become your career?

A In 1989, I participated in an underwater shoot in Flores. I was very much an amateur then but a picture of mine won over an esteemed professional photographer. I was spurred on to shoot more.

Q Where does your work take you?

A Everywhere ... from pole to pole, all the oceans.

Q How often are you away from home?

A I am home [Sydney] for less than five months a year.

Q How often will you be underwater and what equipment do you need to survive?

A We will dive most days and will be wearing dry suits.

Q What's your ideal water temperature?

A 28 degrees.

Q Favourite beach for relaxation?

A Le Meridien - Bora Bora.

Q Do you have a favourite sea creature?

A Sharks for the big ones and blennies for the small critters.

Q What will be in your bag?

A Five camera bodies and an array of lenses, three underwater housings, pole cam, remote transmitter, remote monitor, sat phone, several digital media cards, hard drive, HD video camera.

Q Any creature comforts?

A Ebook, MP3 and single-malt whisky.

The Elysian Epic expedition leaves on Wednesday. See elysium

Interview by Jane Reddy