John Lenagan

Naturalist, photographer and aquarist

BAP Expert John Lenagan

John Lenagan was born in Trindad, West Indies, and in 1965 he migrated to Australia, where grew up in Perth (Western Australia). He began to explore the natural bush and Swan River as soon as he could ride his push bike, fascinated by nature – avian, terrestrial and aquatic.

He has been keeping fishes from the age of 7. His first ones were Endler Guppies, as he understood that Sir Reverend Guppy, who discovered the first guppies the 1800s in Trinidad, was one of his grandmother’s uncles.

John has always been interested in collecting native fish and crustaceans, including the numerous species of Goby, Galaxiid and Pigmy Perch, to be found in and around Perth and in south-west Australia.

He has been a keen diver and spear fisherman from an early age and he took up photography when working on Barrow Island, when he bought his first SLR camera (Canon, of course) in the 70’s.

He practiced as a registered architect for 30 yrs, mainly on large commercial projects in Sydney and then Melbourne, where he settled down with Katrina and raised their three daughters Phoebe, Jessica and Sarah.

John joined the ANGFA in 2005 and he has been on the National and Victorian Committee since 2001. He is active in various educational and conservation projects and on the editorial committee of ANGFA’s Fishes of Sahul.

Since retirement, John has resumed his passion for wildlife and conservation photography, travelling to many exotic places, photographing and filming nature. His motto is “if it has eyes and can wink at you, you must photograph it”.

Over the last 10 years, he has been diving and filming in numerous freshwater rivers and creeks in Australia, Amazon, West Papua and Sabah, even if the water is 8 °C.

Highlights include finding wild specimens of madagascan lace plants near Andasibe, Madagscar, swimming with piranhas in Brazil, photographing anacondas in Napo River, Ecuador, and finding and filming Melanotaenia synergos on Batanta Island with Heiko Bleher.

John has made many underwater films about freshwater fishes in their natural habitats. Also, he believes the new practice of creating aquatic biotopes to show the fish in an environment as natural as possible to be one of the best ways to bring out the beauty and natural behaviour of the fishes in their more natural setting. This also raises the viewers’ awareness on how precious fishes and these habitats are, and on the challenges that our natural water bodies face around the world, being indirectly serious threats to our very own existence.

Expert in the following geographical regions:
  • Australia, Papua New Guinea