The magical marine­ world

2018-10-16 06:01
Craig Foster, diving with an octopus.

Craig Foster, diving with an octopus.

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On Cape Town’s doorstep is a magical world, filled with wonders and mystery. It’s also a world of icy water, towering kelp forests and unexplored species.

The magic of the kelp forest has been captured for the public to see, without getting their toes wet, in a first-of-its-kind book by locals Ross Frylinck and Craig Foster.

Frylinck and Foster, along with other volunteers, have formed the Sea-Change Trust. Through a unique underwater tracking technique, they’ve made biological discoveries that have attracted global recognition. Their book, titled Sea Change: Primal Joy and the Art of Underwater Tracking, was launched on Thursday 11 October and showcases these discoveries for the first time.

Frylinck says: “When Craig and I first started swimming together he didn’t even have a camera, but every time we went into the kelp forest we were having these amazing experiences that we couldn’t really describe. Once he started taking pictures it became clear that there was something really special here and we had a way of sharing it.

“At the time we didn’t know what the project was going to develop into, but we wanted to show the city that they are part of this incredible wilderness so we put together an outdoor exhibit on the Sea Point Promenade.”

The exhibition was viewed by a million people, Frylinck adds, and “the response was overwhelming”.

“They couldn’t believe that there was a great wilderness right here at the edge of the city, full of animals most of them had never even heard of. The ideas for the film and book grew from there – we are also working on a travelling exhibition.”

The book not only boasts imagery of life underwater and the scientific findings of the kelp forest and the creatures within it, but also captures both Foster and Frylinck’s journey of self-discovery and connection to nature.

Forster says: “The book is about how we have found ways to understand and celebrate this special place using minimal diving gear and no wetsuits, diving persistently every day for more than seven years, eventually learning to track underwater. Readers can expect to be immersed in a world never seen before: the African kelp forest and rocky shore. They will meet otherworldly creatures and read about aspects of their secret lives that have never been documented before. But the book is not just about animals, it’s about our deep relationship with the sea.”

Both Frylinck and Foster dive in the icy water without any wetsuits or diving gear.

“Diving every day in the Cape of Storms can be extremely unpleasant and even dangerous, so you can imagine the discipline and focus it took for [Craig] to create his archive of literally tens of thousands of images. I took on the writing of the main text, but also the image selection for the photographic narrative. It was a challenge and a privilege to sift slowly through this huge collection and try find a thread for the visual story. It was also a challenge to bring my and Craig’s stories together,” says Frylinck.

The team’s discoveries have also led to a groundbreaking octopus/shark sequence in the BBC’s Blue Planet II TV series.

“This magnificent ecosystem has multiple threats which include pollution, overfishing, poaching, and most recently mining (98% of the marine territory surrounding South Africa has been earmarked for exploration). When you know the intimate lives of these animals you realise how difficult it is for them to survive,” says Forester.

“[Kelp forests] are one of the most biodiverse habitats on the planet and in other parts of the world they are already disappearing. We hope that our work will help to raise the profile of our undersea forest on a global scale.”

Carina Frankal, chairperson and executive producer at the Sea-Change Trust, says: “We are hoping that the book is the first stage in getting the African kelp forest, home to over 14 000 documented species, on the map as one of the great natural wonders in the world.

“We need to make it known just how important it is to protect our marine habitats, so that ecosystems like the kelp forest will continue to thrive for centuries to come.”

The Sea-Change Trust has a number of initiatives lined up. These include a series of exhibitions, field courses, and a feature documentary film co-directed by Foster and fellow diver Pippa Ehrlich who also edited the book. The film is titled My Octopus Teacher, and chronicles his relationship with a wild octopus in the kelp forest.

V To order your copy online or for more information about the Sea-Change Trust, go to www.­seachangeproject­.com.

On Cape Town’s doorstep is a magical world, filled with wonders and mystery. It’s also a world of icy water, towering kelp forests and unexplored species.

The magic of the kelp forest has been captured for the public to see, without getting their toes wet, in a first-of-its-kind book by locals Ross Frylinck and Craig Foster.

Frylinck and Foster, along with other volunteers, have formed the Sea-Change Trust. Through a unique underwater tracking technique, they’ve made biological discoveries that have attracted global recognition. Their book, titled Sea Change: Primal Joy and the Art of Underwater Tracking, was launched on Thursday 11 October and showcases these discoveries for the first time.

Frylinck says: “When Craig and I first started swimming together he didn’t even have a camera, but every time we went into the kelp forest we were having these amazing experiences that we couldn’t really describe. Once he started taking pictures it became clear that there was something really special here and we had a way of sharing it. At the time we didn’t know what the project was going to develop into, but we wanted to show the city that they are part of this incredible wilderness so we put together an outdoor exhibit on the Sea Point Promenade.”

The exhibition was viewed by a million people, Frylinck adds, and “the response was overwhelming”.

“They couldn’t believe that there was a great wilderness right here at the edge of the city, full of animals most of them had never even heard of. The ideas for the film and book grew from there – we are also working on a travelling exhibition.”

The book not only boasts imagery of life underwater and the scientific findings of the kelp forest and the creatures within it, but also captures both Foster and Frylinck’s journey of self-discovery and connection to nature.

Forster says: “The book is about how we have found ways to understand and celebrate this special place using minimal diving gear and no wetsuits, diving persistently every day for more than seven years, eventually learning to track underwater. Readers can expect to be immersed in a world never seen before: the African kelp forest and rocky shore. They will meet otherworldly creatures and read about aspects of their secret lives that have never been documented before. But the book is not just about animals, it’s about our deep relationship with the sea.”

Both Frylinck and Foster dive in the icy water without any wetsuits or diving gear.

“Diving every day in the Cape of Storms can be extremely unpleasant and even dangerous, so you can imagine the discipline and focus it took for [Craig] to create his archive of literally tens of thousands of images. I took on the writing of the main text, but also the image selection for the photographic narrative. It was a challenge and a privilege to sift slowly through this huge collection and try find a thread for the visual story. It was also a challenge to bring my and Craig’s stories together,” says Frylinck.

The team’s discoveries have also led to a groundbreaking octopus/shark sequence in the BBC’s Blue Planet II TV series.

“This magnificent ecosystem has multiple threats which include pollution, overfishing, poaching, and most recently mining (98% of the marine territory surrounding South Africa has been earmarked for exploration). When you know the intimate lives of these animals you realise how difficult it is for them to survive,” says Forester.

“[Kelp forests] are one of the most biodiverse habitats on the planet and in other parts of the world they are already disappearing. We hope that our work will help to raise the profile of our undersea forest on a global scale.”

Carina Frankal, chairperson and executive producer at the Sea-Change Trust, says: “We need to make it known just how important it is to protect our marine habitats, so that ecosystems like the kelp forest will continue to thrive for centuries to come.”

The Sea-Change Trust has a number of initiatives lined up. These include a series of exhibitions, field courses, and a feature documentary film co-directed by Foster and fellow diver Pippa Ehrlich who also edited the book.

V Visit www.­seachangeproject­.com.

On Cape Town’s doorstep is a magical world, filled with wonders and mystery. It’s also a world of icy water, towering kelp forests and unexplored species.

The magic of the kelp forest has been captured for the public to see, without getting their toes wet, in a first-of-its-kind book by locals Ross Frylinck and Craig Foster.

Frylinck and Foster, along with other volunteers, have formed the Sea-Change Trust. Through a unique underwater tracking technique, they’ve made biological discoveries that have attracted global recognition. Their book, titled Sea Change: Primal Joy and the Art of Underwater Tracking, was launched on Thursday 11 October and showcases these discoveries for the first time.

Frylinck says: “When Craig and I first started swimming together he didn’t even have a camera, but every time we went into the kelp forest we were having these amazing experiences that we couldn’t really describe. Once he started taking pictures it became clear that there was something really special here and we had a way of sharing it.

“At the time we didn’t know what the project was going to develop into, but we wanted to show the city that they are part of this incredible wilderness so we put together an outdoor exhibit on the Sea Point Promenade.”

The exhibition was viewed by a million people, Frylinck adds, and “the response was overwhelming”.

“They couldn’t believe that there was a great wilderness right here at the edge of the city, full of animals most of them had never even heard of. The ideas for the film and book grew from there – we are also working on a travelling exhibition.”

The book not only boasts imagery of life underwater and the scientific findings of the kelp forest and the creatures within it, but also captures both Foster and Frylinck’s journey of self-discovery and connection to nature.

Forster says: “The book is about how we have found ways to understand and celebrate this special place using minimal diving gear and no wetsuits, diving persistently every day for more than seven years, eventually learning to track underwater. Readers can expect to be immersed in a world never seen before: the African kelp forest and rocky shore. They will meet otherworldly creatures and read about aspects of their secret lives that have never been documented before. But the book is not just about animals, it’s about our deep relationship with the sea.”

Both Frylinck and Foster dive in the icy water without any wetsuits or diving gear.

“Diving every day in the Cape of Storms can be extremely unpleasant and even dangerous, so you can imagine the discipline and focus it took for [Craig] to create his archive of literally tens of thousands of images. I took on the writing of the main text, but also the image selection for the photographic narrative. It was a challenge and a privilege to sift slowly through this huge collection and try find a thread for the visual story. It was also a challenge to bring my and Craig’s stories together,” says Frylinck.

The team’s discoveries have also led to a groundbreaking octopus/shark sequence in the BBC’s Blue Planet II TV series. “This magnificent ecosystem has multiple threats which include pollution, overfishing, poaching, and most recently mining (98% of the marine territory surrounding South Africa has been earmarked for exploration). When you know the intimate lives of these animals you realise how difficult it is for them to survive,” says Forester.

“[Kelp forests] are one of the most biodiverse habitats on the planet and in other parts of the world they are already disappearing. We hope that our work will help to raise the profile of our undersea forest on a global scale.”

Carina Frankal, chairperson and executive producer at the Sea-Change Trust, says: “We are hoping that the book is the first stage in getting the African kelp forest, home to over 14 000 documented species, on the map as one of the great natural wonders in the world.

“We need to make it known just how important it is to protect our marine habitats, so that ecosystems like the kelp forest will continue to thrive for centuries to come.”

The Sea-Change Trust has a number of initiatives lined up. These include a series of exhibitions, field courses, and a feature documentary film co-directed by Foster and fellow diver Pippa Ehrlich who also edited the book. The film is titled My Octopus Teacher, and chronicles his relationship with a wild octopus in the kelp forest.

V Visit www.­seachangeproject­.com.

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