Fiona Ayerst

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Fiona Ayerst with Nikonos.jpeg
Fiona Ayerst Johnson with camera
Born (1965-09-20) 20 September 1965 (age 49)
Residence Mossel Bay, South Africa
Nationality South African
Education National College of Photography,
Alma mater University of KwaZulu-Natal
Occupation Underwater photographer,
Shark conservation
Partner(s) Ryan Johnson
Children Finn Ayerst Johnson
Awards Winescape award (2007)[1]
Gold medals, Canola Festival 2012[2]
Top prize, Underwater Photography magazine[3]
Wildlife Photographer of the Year (2003)[4]
Mossel Bay award[5]

Fiona Ayerst is a wildlife photographer based in South Africa notable for underwater photography.[6][7] She has swum with many species of shark, photographed them, including the macropredator Tiger shark[8][9] and the massive but tamer whale shark.[10][11][12][13][14] Her images have won awards in numerous photo competitions.[15][16] She writes for several magazines, and works as an editor for Beyond Blue magazine.[17][18] She is a proponent of protecting sharks and ocean environments.[19][20][21][22] Her images have appeared in magazines and newspapers worldwide, such as Time magazine,[12] as well as on magazine covers[23] and Coffee table books featuring wildlife photography.[4][24][25] She won South Africa's 2003 Wildlife Photographer of the Year.[4][26] She gave a TED talk in 2012 titled My journey into water.[27][20] She is a director of Africa Media.


  1. ^ a b Media Update, 13 November 2007, Winescape Magazine spreads the word about the country's winelands, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "...first place winner ... Fiona Ayerst from Johannesburg who is studying at the National School of Photography..."
  2. ^ Africa Media, October 2012, AFRICA MEDIA’S PHOTOGRAPHERS TAKE SEVERAL AWARDS AT CANOLA FESTIVAL COMPETITION, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "..announce that Africa Media Photographer Fiona Ayerst was awarded best image of the festival and best image of the day along with two gold medals..."
  3. ^ Underwater Photography magazine (archive), 2007, Fiona Ayerst – World Champion 2007], Retrieved 15 August 2014, ".. top prize goes to a woman... saw a very strong entry from Fiona across all contest categories throughout the year...."
  4. ^ a b c Moving Sushi newsletter, 2012, Inspiring women of the Ocean, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "...Fiona is a professional photographer ... in 2003 was awarded the title of Wildlife Photographer of the year in South Africa. ... her photos appearing in various international "coffee table" books ..."
  5. ^ 13 April 2012, The Gremlin News & Information, Mossel Bay announces Responsible Tourism Photo of the Year, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "..The winning image – "Look Dad Shark" – was made by professional photographer Fiona Ayerst,..."
  6. ^ The Telegraph, 21 September 2011, Pictures of the day, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "...Underwater photographer Fiona Ayerst captures pictures of bull sharks off the coast of Mozambique, southern Africa..."
  7. ^ 7 November 2013, St. Francis Village News, Enter the Sustainable Seas Trust 2013 Photo Competition, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "The competition will be judged by Fiona Ayerst... Ayerst heads up the multi-award winning Fiona Ayerst Underwater Photography agency which seeks to offer 'a unique glimpse into the history and wildlife of the world's oceans'...."
  8. ^ June/July 2009,, Riveting Shark Encounters: Fiona Ayerst recounts her magical experience with the Leander free-diving duo and gentle tiger shark in the warm silky waters of the Bahamas, Retrieved 15 August 2014
  9. ^ Note: while Tiger sharks have attacked humans in the past, such incidents are rare, and these sharks are a near-threatened species which Ayerst argues deserve protection
  10. ^ 11 Alive (TV News), Retrieved 15 August 2014, (see photos 7 and 8) "...Fearless sea-snapper, Fiona Ayerst,45, from Mossel Bay, South Africa is so dedicated to capturing up-close pictures of sharks that she literally goes head-to-head with the ocean's top predators. ... eye-popping picture she snaps a friend cheekily swimming in front of a whale shark in just a bikini...."
  11. ^ Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, 14 March 2008, Most Oceanic Sharks Worldwide at Serious Risk From High-Seas Fishing and a Rising Demand for Shark Products, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "...A small mako shark hooked (and later released) during a tuna fishing trip off Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Fiona Ayerst..."
  12. ^ a b 4 August 2009, Time magazine, [1], Retrieved 15 August 2014, "...A 40-foot whale shark and a brave snorkler swim off the South African coast. ..."
  13. ^ Meera Dolasia, 3 July 2009, Dogo News, Er . . . . . . . Is That A Shark Behind You?, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "...Fiona Ayerst were out diving and admiring the beautiful marine life in the warm Indian Ocean waters, when Fiona, who was slightly behind Sam, noticed this Whale Shark following her friend...."
  14. ^ MAIL FOREIGN SERVICE, 1 July 2009, The Daily Mail, He's behind you! Diver's close encounter with enormous shark"...picture was taken by Miss Bester's friend Fiona Ayerst off the coast of Durban in South Africa..."
  15. ^ Yahoo! News, 8 May 2013, Best friends: The two toddlers who've formed an extraordinary bond with a pair of cheetahs, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "...Best friends: The cheetahs appear comfortable around young Malan and Kayla (FIONA AYERST)..."
  16. ^ 18 October 2012, Africa Media, AFRICA MEDIA’S PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHER, FIONA AYERST’S IMAGE CHOSEN IN THE TOP 50 OF THE SAVE OUR SEABIRDS INTERNATIONAL PHOTO COMPETITION- “OCEANS OF LIFE”, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "...multi- award winning photographer, Fiona Ayerst , ... images nominated for an award in this prestigious competition, October 2012....Fiona's image of a pygmy seahorse ... Sulawesi,Indonesia on a night dive ... only the size of a tiny fingernail..."
  17. ^ August/September 2009,, Being the winter edition, I have some great articles lined up to both thaw and chill you in these core winter months, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "..Fiona Ayerst, professional underwater photographer and editor of Beyond Blue magazine, reveals the elusive frogfish,..."
  18. ^ June/July 2009,, Fiona Ayerst, professional underwater photographer and editor of Beyond Blue magazine, reveals the elusive frogfish, Retrieved 15 August 2014
  19. ^ KIM VON BRANDIS, 17 July 2012, Save Our Seas organization, Getting the public involved in shark conservation at the Save Our Seas Shark Centre, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "... Save Our Seas Shark Centre. The theme of the evening was centered around public participation in shark conservation, with talks given by Fiona Ayerst of Sharklife .."
  20. ^ a b Fiona Ayerst, IBN Live News, August 2014, TED X SeaPoint Talk: Fiona Ayerst – My Journey into water, Retrieved 15 August 2014; relates how she sold her law practice in Johannesburg to become a professional underwater photographer; active in shark conservation, protection of oceans
  21. ^ Getty Images, Shark photographer Fiona Ayerst, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "..'Seeing as human beings kill over 100 million sharks each year, and they only kill less than ten of us each year- I am not especially worried about them....(Photo by Fiona Ayerst/Barcroft Media / Getty Images)..."
  22. ^ 2013-02-13, Eden Express News, SHARK ANGLER GUILTY, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "..Information supplied by Fiona Ayerst of the Oceans Society...."
  23. ^ July 2014 issue, Go Southern Africa magazine, Cover picture: Fiona Ayerst, Retrieved 15 August 2014
  24. ^ AsianTown News, 7 January 2009, from The Daily Mail, Diver's close encounter with enormous shark – with pic, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "..picture was taken by Miss Bester's friend Fiona Ayerst off the coast of Durban in South Africa...."
  25. ^ 24 June 2014, Manzi magazine, “Clark’s view” is a unique and often dangerous perspective of waves, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "...Fiona Ayerst on Freediving (breath hold) one of the fastest growing watersports in the world- captured on camera..."
  26. ^ 14 October 2013, The Green Times, Aspiring nature photographers wanted, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "...The competition will be judged by Fiona Ayerst ... Ayerst heads up the multi-award winning Fiona Ayerst Underwater Photography agency...."
  27. ^ 28 March 2012, The Gremlin News & Information, Mossel Bay photographer talks at TEDxSeaPoint, Retrieved 15 August 2014, "..Fiona Ayerst – a professional photographer who gave up the law in order to follow her passion for the sea – called her talk 'My journey into water.'..."

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