johan swanepoel

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Johan lives in Port Elizabeth , South Africa and since childhood has always been interested in nature. His dream was to become a marine biologist.


 In following his passion he set up and maintained his own marine tanks taking particular care to replicate life in the ocean with all its fascinating biodiversity.

As so often happens, life had other plans for him as he completed his BComm Degree at the University of Port Elizabeth, now known as the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. He commenced his working career in Government and went on to run a business with his family in the micro lending sector.

 In 2003 he completed his Open Water Diver course to explore the wonders of scuba diving. Needless to say he has been diving ever since. A holiday in Phuket (Thailand) in 2007 provided the incentive to complete the Advanced Open Water Diver course, allowing him to dive their reefs deeper than 18 meters. Continuing his exploration of diving he completed various specialist diving courses up to Master Scuba Diver but it was after completing the Digital Underwater Photography Specialist Course in 2008 that he became truely hooked!

As fascinating as the ocean is, where all life forms can be studied, Johan became especially fascinated by the smaller life forms and in particular the photography & study the smaller species of the reef. This fascination resulted in a request from fellow divers to put in place a website to promote the biodiversity of the reefs in Port Elizabeth and along its spectacular coastline.

On the 31st October 2008, whilst on a night dive he photographed a fish he was unable to identify.  He forwarded the photo to the East Coast Fish Watch Project and asked for their assistance to identify the specie. This was to be the first photograph of the Austrobatracchus foedes (Puzzled Toad Fish) in its natural habitat.

The reply he received from the East Coast Fish Watch Project was ‘This is the first underwater shot of this species that we have seen & I wonder if you would give us permission to accession it into our image collection to allow other scientists access? Most ichthyologists specialize in a specific family of fishes & I hope you won’t mind if I also forward your photo to Dave Greenfield, the toadfish specialist in California, to show him live colour?’


This photograph has also

  • Been included in the publication “ Review of the toadfish genera (Teleostei : Batrachoididae) by David W Greenfield of the California Academy of Sciences
  • Appeared on the TV program 50/50 (Veldfokus) where it was considered as one of the best photographic contributions in 2008
  • Been included in the SAIAB (South African institute for the Aquatic Biodivesity) 2009-calender
  • Won the Submerge Dive Magazine Jan/Feb 2009 photograph competition  

Whilst Johan has enjoyed some notoriety from the above events, the joy of his unexpected and surprising discovery has provided an even greater motivation to continue his underwater photography.


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johan swanepoel