Imagine diving underwater and chasing “big animals” as they migrate through our deep, blue oceans.  

For the last 10 years, that is exactly what Don Silcock, Bali-based Australian underwater photographer and photojournalist, has been doing. Before focusing on photographing “major marine aggregations” worldwide, Don has traveled and been diving for the last 45 years.  

He has won multiple awards, like UW Photographer of the Year – B&W, and his photos featured on publications like Scuba Diver Magazine and X-Ray Magazine.  

Don’s passion for diving and traveling began at a young age when he landed a job in the oil and gas industry in Libya. That same year in 1978, he experienced scuba diving for the first time on the island of Malta. With the loose regulations surrounding diving at the time, Don acquired a “dive card” which allowed him to dive the sites around Malta.  

Fourteen years, a wife, two kids and four countries later, Don and his family finally decided it was time to leave the Middle East and move to Australia, where he continued his passion for diving and picked up underwater photography seriously. Don is a BSAC Advanced Instructor and PADI Divemaster. With over 4,000 dives, he has recently switched to Technical Diving International (TDI) and is qualified with Sidemount, Advanced Nitrox and Decompression Procedures (ANDP) to 45m and Extended Range to 55m. 


Diving with Papua Diving


When Don is not traveling the world capturing beautiful underwater moments, you can find him in Bali, Indonesia editing photos from his travels. 

Chasing the “Big Animals” 

Big Animals 

Although Don enjoys all aspects of the underwater world, he finds the big animal encounters “the most interesting and certainly most exciting!” He has photographed sharks, whales, whale sharks, manta rays, manatees, and even the Australian Giant Cuttlefish. But his favorite are the whales, known for their intelligence and curiosity. 

These big animal encounters are brief, happening on the creature’s terms. But these challenges have shaped Don into the photographer that he is: learning to be ready for the shot, knowing his equipment and settings well, and simply, seizing the moment.  

“It’s incredibly satisfying when all that comes together! But the images are only one element as I really enjoy researching and learning about the creatures, and then telling the overall story in my articles,” he said. 

But chasing these big animals underwater also comes with dangers and thrills. Don doesn’t scare easily but the “most scared [he had] ever been was getting in the water with American crocodiles for the first time at Banco Chinchorro in Mexico.” 

Having spent plenty of time underwater with sharks and whales, Don has learned to read the body language of these underwater giants. But with crocodiles that don’t move underwater, Don found it difficult to establish a “threshold of danger.” 

“Crocodiles don’t move—until they do—and possess immense, potentially lethal, kinetic energy,” he said. And with almost no signs of when they will move and attack, it was a scary experience.  

Visiting Raja Ampat

Don has been traveling to and diving in Indonesia since the year 2000. He considers Raja Ampat his favorite place to dive in tropical waters. And as a photographer, Don is constantly photographing the places he visits, especially the rich biodiversity that Raja Ampat has to offer—both above and below water.  

He has always been fascinated by Cape Kri’s ebb and flow—when and why it was at its best. Having only dived Cape Kri at random moments while on liveaboards, Don never got the chance to fully experience Cape Kri’s currents... until last year when he dove with Papua Diving Resorts’ very own dive guide, Yohanis.  

“When I dived it at exactly the right time with Yohanis, it was a revelation to me and I saw, really for the first time, just how good it is!” he said. 

Don has also met our founder Max Ammer and wrote about his story as the pioneer of diving and conservation in Indonesia’s Crown Jewel. Max shared how 30 years ago he came to Raja Ampat looking for WWII-era plane wrecks, and what he found alongside it is a rich marine ecosystem and a generous indigenous community.  

As Don explored more of Raja Ampat, he continued writing about his adventures there. He wrote about  the Indonesian archipelago, diving the Dampier Strait, and most recently, about Cape Kri being the “World’s Best House Reef.” 

You can find more of Don’s photographs on his site, aptly named IndoPacific Images, and more of his published articles here