Australian sea lions, Hopkins Island, South Australia
Anyone familiar with diving in the Sunshine State will know that it has plenty to offer the underwater photographer. The region has a healthy shark population, friendly manatees, and even a famous muck dive where you can encounter strange critters more commonly found in Asia and beyond. It is also the home of this week’s featured photographer Michael Patrick O’Neill.
Born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Michael has spent the last 27 years traveling extensively worldwide photographing diverse aquatic animals, habitats and our impact on them. He now lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he is rightly considered one of the region’s most prolific and successful nature photographers.
Having admired and followed his work for some time, I was very happy when Micheal agreed to showcase some of his work, as he is always busy doing something new and creative while producing excellent images that are a bit different from the norm. Just last week, he was hired to film and photograph a world record long distance swimming event in the open ocean off the east coast of Florida. He also helped to pioneer the introduction of black-water diving in Palm Beach, was one of the first people to photograph the rare and elusive sawfish in Jupiter, and has some epic footage of the annual migration of thousands of blacktip sharks along the same coastline using his drone.
His most impressive images are not the result of some chance encounter; they have been achieved by spending hours in the field and taking risks that many other photographers will not. His black-water images are particularly striking, as is the close-up of a giant green anaconda taken in his homeland of Brazil.
Aside from taking great photos, Michael is also a passionate educator and conservationist. He has written and photographed seven non-fiction marine life books designed to encourage school children to read, write and become involved in science and conservation. Through his regular visits to schools to lecture on the ocean and its inhabitants, he has presented to over 500,000 kids in more than 400 schools across the US—quite an achievement and one that should be admired as much as his awesome underwater imagery.
Coral reef, Beqa Lagoon, Fiji
Florida manatees gathered during a cold front in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Poacher with giant trevally, Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Photographer Douglas Seifert with goliath grouper, Jupiter, Florida, USA
Spotted dolphins, White Sand Ridge, Bahamas
Photographer Vincent Kneefel with leatherback turtle, Trinidad
Flying fish, Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Diamond squid, Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Male blanket octopus, Palm Beach, Florida, USA
16-foot green anaconda, Bonito, Brazil
Female peacock cichlid guarding fry, South Miami, USA
“Ocean Hero” collecting garbage during a reef cleanup, Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Tourist and playful manatee, Crystal River, Florida, USA
Michael Patrick O’Neill
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