Michael Maes

Profile picture for user Michael.Maes
a: POB 64 BT – KY1-1601 – Cayman Islands
w: www.michaelmaes.com
e: film (at) michaelmaes (dot) com

Explorers Club Fellow International ‘17
Founding Navigator at Central Caribbean Marine Institute
Member of Blue Ocean Watch Production Team
Member of RGL Advisory Board
Ocean Artist Society Member
Ocean Defender
Arctic Explorer
Gear Geek

Producer of Epiphany, winner of the “2016 Humanitarian Award of Distinction" at the Accolade Global Film Competition.
Filming Beluga whales with the Kimmirut Inuit community.

Michael Maes is a Grand Cayman-based Extreme Wildlife Cinematographer, specialized in big animals and animal behavior

Michael's portfolio (both underwater and topside) covers the polar regions, temperate waters and the tropics. He has a passionate interest for polar bears and Arctic whales.

Originally from Belgium, Michael relocated to Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands in 2008. Although the underwater world attracted him since he started diving in 1992, a dive accident several years later kept him land-locked for a long time. When Ellen Cuylaerts — a renowned wildlife photographer — challenged him back into the water in 2011, his rediscovered dedication for diving became life changing.

Michael recognized the impact of storytelling through pictures and film and used this platform to create awareness of the remarkable wildlife realm to the broad public. At the heart of his films is showing people the beauty and fragility of this blue planet, from the depths of the warm waters to the white vastness of the polar regions. Michael produces films with integrity, serving to both educate and inform the general public about environmental issues dear to him.

His work has been broadcast on various national television like BBC, Nat Geo Wild, Outside Television, CBC. It also received recognition at a myriad of international film festivals; reflecting the ability to translate the need for wildlife conservation onto the screen.

Stemming from a long and successful past in IT, Michael seeks to remain at the forefront of cutting edge technology. His choice for RED Digital Cinema cameras and the superior optics of Zeiss cinema lenses originates from his commitment to capture the perfection of nature under optimum conditions. Although he advocates it is not "the camera taking the picture” but "the person behind the camera", he also believes technology by itself is an additional tool for filmmakers.

In 2015 Michael was inducted as cinematographer in the Ocean Artists Society, an organization uniting artists worldwide to raise awareness and protect the marine environment through art. Michael is also a founding Navigator of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute; a leading scientific research centre in the Caribbean focusing on coral reef restoration, research on coral resilience, and ocean education. The illustrious Explorers Club welcomed him as a Fellow member in 2017 (FI17). He is also a team member of Blue Ocean Watch.

Michael recently finished a feature documentary – Epiphany – a story about shark conservation, conquering fear, reinventing life and autism.

My Pledges

Stop Depletion of Fish Stocks
  • Pledge 1: Choose sustainable seafood.
  • Pledge 2: Buy ocean-friendly certified seafood.
  • Pledge 3: Ask about the sustainability of seafood before you order in restaurants.
  • Pledge 4: Learn more about the fishing and aquaculture sectors so you can make informed choices.
Stop Ocean Acidification by Reducing Carbon Emissions
  • Pledge 2: Choose an energy efficient vehicle.
  • Pledge 3: Keep your tyres properly inflated (will boost your miles per litre of fuel consumption).
  • Pledge 4: Reduce your energy use at home (think insulation, turning off lights, shorter cycles on washing machines).
  • Pledge 5: Conserve water (shorter showers, turn off tap when brushing teeth etc). It takes a lot of energy to pump, treat and heat water.
  • Pledge 6: Waste less food. Agriculture and food production uses vast amounts of carbon dioxide.
  • Pledge 7: Buy locally produced and seasonal food to minimise carbon emissions of transportation.
Stop Plastic Marine Debris
  • Pledge 1: Refuse plastic drinking straws.
  • Pledge 2: Avoid cosmetics that contain microbeads (hidden plastic). Check for polyethylene and polypropylene.
  • Pledge 3: Carry a reusable water bottle.
  • Pledge 4: Choose biodegradable or reusable cutlery and plates over plastic.
  • Pledge 5: Dispose of plastics properly; don't flush (e.g. Q-tips, sanitary products or sticking plasters).
  • Pledge 6: Use reusable shopping bags over disposable plastic bags.
  • Pledge 8: Reuse, recycle and opt for no packaging when possible
Stop Pollution of the Ocean by Contaminants
  • Pledge 1: Use eco-friendly cleaning products.
  • Pledge 2: Dispose of chemicals properly.
  • Pledge 3: Avoid foods treated with synthetically manufactured pesticides.
  • Pledge 4: Do not discharge sewage from boats into coastal waters.
  • Pledge 5: Dispose of unused medicines responsibly; don't flush them. Return them to your local pharmacy.

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