Australian Embassy
The Philippines

MR140618 - Australian artist/marine biologist launches “In Tropical Seas” book and exhibit in the Philippines


Looking Down, Jay Maclean. 6'x6' (6 panels) 

Red fish over coral reef; 2012; Acrylic on canvas; 6 panels each 3'x2' . (6'x6' total)


Australian artist/marine biologist launches “In Tropical Seas” book and exhibit in the Philippines
18 June 2014

In observance of Environment Month (June) in the Philippines and Coral Triangle Day (09 June), a book and painting exhibition of In Tropical Seas was launched on 18 June at The Podium mall to highlight the beauty and diversity of tropical marine life. The book and exhibition serve to underscore the importance of marine conservation as well as the longstanding scientific linkages and efforts being undertaken by Philippine and Australian marine biologists and institutions toward this end.

In Tropical Seas is a colourful 56-page book by marine biologist and artist Jay Maclean. Produced by the Zobel Foundation and United Graphic Expression Corporation (UGEC), it introduces young readers to tropical marine life and the importance of caring for it. It features paintings and drawings depicting animals, plants and scenes that are commonly seen in the tropical western Pacific Ocean, including Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and northern Australia.

According to Maclean, “inspiration for the book was the absence of similar material for any age group. Countries in tropical areas have long been accustomed to using books from other parts of the world that are not appropriate for the region, or using photographic field guides set out in a taxonomic progression aimed mostly at adult divers.”

In Tropical Seas takes the reader on a visit to the shore and describes life in different habitats in the coastal zone, as he or she ventures from the beach, to the intertidal area, mangrove forest, seagrass meadows and coral reefs.

The exhibition bearing the same name features many of the illustrations used in the book, as well as newer and older works. Most are large acrylic paintings capturing the immense beauty and fragility of coral reef ecosystems, driving home the themes of interconnectedness, collaboration, and the importance of safeguarding our marine resources. The exhibition also features soundscapes created by Maclean for themes featured in specifc paintings.

Jay Maclean is an Australian marine biologist who has been living and working in the Philippines since 1980, observing and documenting marine life through scientific and artistic means. He is an honorary member of the Angono Artists Association and has exhibited with them and in solo exhibitions. Maclean is also a consultant with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Coral Triangle Day is a feature of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF), a multilateral partnership of six countries[1] formed in 2007 to address the urgent threats facing the coastal and marine resources of one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically rich regions on earth. As a partner of the initiative, Australia has been working closely with member countries, providing funding support as well as technical and strategic expertise and advice.[2] For the last three decades, Australian and Filipino marine scientists have been actively collaborating and exchanging information on marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

“Australia and the Philippines face the same global challenges in areas like marine depletion, and the Australian Government is working with our partners in the Philippines on various initiatives through both bilateral and regional fora to address these,” said Warren Hoye, Counsellor of the Australian Embassy.

The book launch, theme music and painting exhibition, which will run until 24 June, are held in partnership with the National Coordinating Committee for the Coral Triagle Initiative (NCCCTI) and made possible through the support of The Podium and Café Mediterranean.


[1] CTI member countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste
[2] More information:



Racoonfish in dot corals, jay Maclean. 3'x2'

Ethnic reef 2; 2012; Acrylic on canvas; 3'x2'


In Tropical Seas book cover



Curious grouper, Jay Maclean.

Always curious; 2013; Acrylic on canvas. 2'x4' 


Night and parrotfish, Jay Maclean. 3'x2'

Out late; 2013; Acrylic on canvas. 3'x2'


Triggerfish, Jay Maclean. 3'8"x1'4"

Triggerfish front on; 2014; Acrylic on canvas. 100x50cm.