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I have been a compulsive adventure traveller since I was a teenager at school in England, where I am still based along with the Philippines. I studied fine art and sculpture at college, and my photography grew out of a desire to express my creativity during my travels, my concerns for protecting the environment and to share my experiences with others. My interests as a traveller are all encompassing and my inspiration as a creative photographer are eclectic, so during my travels I aim to capture all facets of the places that I visit from the smallest organisms to whales, landscapes, children and people, and cultural events from beauty pageants to religious festivals. In 1973 when I was 20 I left art college prematurely to travel overland to India and Nepal and back, and in 1978 hitchhiked from New York to Mexico via Alaska, where I worked in the salmon canneries to get more money for my trip. I caught hepatitis in Mexico, returned to the UK to recover, and then returned to the USA with the intention of earning some more money working in the salmon canneries in Alaska so that I could travel overland all the way down South America, but Alaska and the humpback whales of Alaska would hold me captive for the next 25 years. After working in one salmon cannery for a few years I bought a boat, and then a kayak to explore the spectacular scenic waterways of Southeast Alaska. After my first close encounters with the migratory humpback whales there I became hooked on kayaking with them and photographing them for 25 years. I became totally immersed in that amazing wilderness by camping out for months at a time on my own whilst following the whales, and their dramatic cooperative bubblenet feeding behaviour became my obsessive focus.

In the late 1980’s my intimate photos of the feeding whales achieved widespread international exposure with numerous contracts for the publication of posters, calendars, greeting cards, postcards etc with some of the main poster companies at the time, such as Athena, the Art Group and Verkerke. In 2002 my obsession with photographing humpback whales for so long in Alaska was rewarded with one of my photos of a lunge-feeding whale winning the mammal behaviour category in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, and another photo was highly recommended in the endangered species category. As a result of that I was commissioned to write an article for the BBC Wildlife Magazine and a photo of me kayaking with the whales appeared on the cover.

In the 1990s I discovered that I have a natural aptitude for teaching and a special rapport with children, and started using my photos, art and experiences to educate children in the USA and the UK about the need to protect whales and dolphins, and their habitats. There was a big demand for both my popular public and school presentations, and in 2001 I received funding from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society to teach children throughout the SW of the UK. My schoolwork also involves teaching drawing, painting and puppet making; and I also paint murals.

In 2002 I was awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to be the first person to kayak along the exposed eastern coastline of Madagascar, with the intention of teaching children about coral reef and rain forest conservation as well. In 1999 I also conducted a 500 mile solo kayaking expedition in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico.Since then my travels have taken me to Sri Lanka, Palawan in the Philippines and Malaysian Borneo, with the intention of adding to my educational and stock portfolio of places of critical environmental value. I have developed a specialisation and passion for macro photography, and have also started doing underwater photography with my initial focus on whale sharks in the Philippines. I also enjoy photographing children, people and cultural events on my travels to cover all aspects of the countries that I visit.


I am a very proficient creative travel and nature writer, and was highly commended in the BBC Wildlife Magazine Travel Writing Competition. My photos and articles have been published in numerous international publications including National Geographic, Natural History, the BBC Wildlife Magazine, Science Illustrated and many national newspapers; the story and photos of “the Whaleman”, as I became known in schools in England, was featured in seven national UK newspapers in Jan 2010 including The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Daily Mail. My photos have also been used by numerous conservation organisations for their campaigns, including the World Wide Fund for Nature, Greenpeace, the Environmental Investigation Agency, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and the Born Free Foundation.

In 2002 I won the Mammal Behaviour Category in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition and was also highly commended in the Endangered Species Category.  Recently in 2017/2018 I won the Fish Behaviour Category in the Ocean Geographic Pictures of the Year Competition http://ogpicoty.ogsociety.org/results-2018/fish-behaviour-winners-2018/ and in 2018/19 I was highly commended in the Photo Journalist Category http://ogpicoty.ogsociety.org/ocean-geographic-emerging-winners-2018-2019/ .  In 2018/19 I won best of show and Fish Behaviour Category in the prestigous Ocean Art Underwater Photography Competition https://www.uwphotographyguide.com/2018-ocean-art-contest-winners.

I am constantly adding to my stock of environmental, cultural and travel photos, and many more galleries will be appearing on my new website – wwww.duncanmurrell.com, which is linked to this blog site and can be accessed via the Archive link. I am based between the UK and Palawan in the Philippines, which will be my base for future trips throughout Asia, many of them by kayak. My next trip is to Myanmar, and after that Western Papua and Sri Lanka, where I have been very involved in the past, particularly with elephant conservation and whale watching; I hope to be photographing blue whales underwater there this time. I am available for any assignments no matter how difficult the challenge, because challenge has always been the driving force of my adventurous life. I am also looking for publishers who may be interested in publishing books that combine adventure tales and great photography of a wide range of subjects, with a strong environmental message. I would also like to publish such books for children. After a very successful stint teaching school children in the USA about my experiences with the whales I was funded by the Whale and Dolphin Society in the UK to teach children all across the SW of England. My public lectures have also been very popular: please read my testimonials. Here is a lecture I gave as the opening keynote speaker at the Risky Business Conference in London in 2010. Please feel free to contact me about any aspect of my work as an environmental artist, educator, photographer, speaker and writer.