“I can only compare these great aquatic forests with the terrestrial ones in the intertropical region. Yet if in any country a forest was destroyed, I do not believe nearly so many species of animals would perish as would here, from the destruction of the kelp. Amidst the leaves of this plant numerous species of fish live which nowhere else could find food or shelter.”

CHARLES DARWIN
1 June 1834, Tierra Del Fugo,Chile

Darwin might have been referring to the kelp forests he saw around the Galapagos Islands, but his statement holds true for all healthy, functioning kelp forest ecosystems on the planet. These sea forests are giant algal gardens, nourished by nutrients that are brought to shore by powerful currents. These fertile waters, provide a unique three dimensional habitat replete with food for countless creatures.

We are a community of scientists, storytellers, journalists and filmmakers who are dedicated to raising awareness of the beauty and ecological importance of South Africa’s kelp forest.

We use media advocacy to protect the South African marine environment. Our work is inspired by daily contact with The Great African Sea Forest, and our goal is to have it declared a UNESCO Natural and Cultural World Heritage Site. By achieving this status, the kelp forest will be recognised as a global treasure that needs to be protected.

Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck founded the Sea Change Trust in 2012, a South African nonprofit. Through hundreds of hours of underwater exploration, they have come to understand this unique environment and the community of creatures that live within it. To date, we have generated millions of rands worth of publicity for our kelp forest. We support the call to sustainably increase South Africa’s marine protected areas (MPAs). By increasing the footprint of MPAs in South Africa we contribute to the protection of our oceans globally.

Our team’s discoveries have led to a ground breaking sequence in the BBC’s Blue Planet II TV series (episode 5: Green Seas); an outdoor photography exhibition seen by an estimated 1 million people; a book which has been showcased on CNN, BBC, and many local media outlets; and a documentary film. We have also discovered a plethora of new species and animal behaviours.

Recently, kelp forests have experienced a global decline of

61%

98%

of the marine territory surrounding South Africa has been earmarked for mining

5%

of South Africa’s oceans are to be protected with a global promise to increase that to 10% by 2020

The scientific recommendation for protected oceans is

30%

by 2030

Why protect the Great African Sea Forest?

The Great African Sea Forest off the southwest tip of the African continent, is one of the best kept secret wonders of the world. It is the only forest of giant bamboo kelp on our planet. It is a magical, abundant and bio-diverse ecosystem.

It protects thousands of species and in terms of endemics, it is vastly richer than the Great Barrier Reef; in terms of wildlife drama, the relationships between predators and prey, are as spectacular as the Serengeti.

All kelp forests are extremely vulnerable sensitive ecosystems that can only grow in shallow inshore waters – areas that are most at risk to human pressure.

The forest is under great threat from pollution, over-fishing, poaching, climate change and the future threat of off-shore mining.

The Sea Change Project aims to protect the Great African Sea Forest by working with partner organisations and advocating for change to the current marine protection laws.

our team

craig
Craig Foster
Co-Founder / Naturalist

Craig Foster is a founder of the Sea Change Trust and one of the world’s leading natural history filmmakers. He has dedicated himself to learning the secrets of the Great African Sea Forest – the inshore kelp habitat at the South West tip of Africa, his underwater home.Together with Ross he has written a book on their transformative experiences exploring the little-known coastline and shallow seas of the Cape Peninsula. He is currently working on the Sea Change film which follows the story of his year with a wild octopus, at the same time honouring his pact to dive 365 times a year. Through this regular intensive immersion, he has uncovered a plethora of new animal behaviours and species, one of the species is a shrimp which has been named after him: Heteromysis Fosteri. He has founded the Sea Change Project to share his love of nature with others.

hortizontal
Ross Frylinck
Co-Founder / Storyteller

Ross is a founding director of the Sea Change Trust. He is a media and events entrepreneur, curator and journalist. Together with Craig, he has written a book on their transformative experiences in the underwater realm on the Cape Peninsula. He is a co-founder of the Wavescape Ocean Festival which has been running for 15 years as the leading ocean culture and conservation event in South Africa. He is also the Chairman of Autonomy Paris - The world's first public focused event to present new urban mobility solutions to policy makers, press and public, in partnership with the City of Paris. Ross is a published journalist and author of children’s books.

carina
Carina Rubin-Frankal
President / Chair

Carina works with the Sea Change Trust to implement its' goals and objectives and develop new content. She is hooked on the transformative power of water. She began her career over twenty five years ago in New York as a film producer where she helped launch the Cartoon Network’s morning segment and the Classic Sports Network. She has gone on to produce short films, music videos and commercials, but her real love is for documentaries. She worked with the Foster Brothers on the award-winning feature documentary, Cosmic Africa and stayed on to produce a few more films with them. 
A few years ago she was called to the sea. Inspired by Craig Foster's underwater photography, and his personal transformation in the water, she transcended her fears and pushed quite far beyond her comfort level. She continues to swim as often as she can, the cold water leaves her with a sense of absolute perfection.
“Going into the water you leave everything behind, except your true self.”

pippa
Philippa Ehrlich ‘Pippa’
Filmmaker / Journalist

Pippa spent much of her childhood in Johannesburg, dreaming of nature. Some of her earliest memories are of wading into the sea at Boulders Beach in Simonstown where she learned to swim. As an adult, Pippa set out to explore nature and our relationship with it as humans. Her role as conservation journalist for Save Our Seas Foundation brought her back to the shores of False Bay where she met Ross and Craig and experienced her first taste of Sea Change magic. Her growing love for the Great African Sea Forest draws her into these cool waters on an almost daily basis where she goes in search of stories that deepen her connection to this incredible wilderness and its weird and wonderful inhabitants. Pippa edited the Sea Change Book and is co-directing the Sea Change feature documentary film.

lisa
Lisa Beasley
OUTREACH / DIVE MASTER

Lisa started scuba diving at 11 years old and fell in love with the underwater world instantly. She became obsessed early on with the very tiny and colourful creatures – especially nudibranchs. Her adventuring nature has taken her all over the world, diving and working as a helicopter pilot, but it was last year, when she met the cold water amphibious Sea Change Tribe that she found where she truly belongs. She has been working alongside The City of Cape Town to find healthier cleaning protocols to preserve the enormous diversity in the tidal pools around Cape Town. Lisa runs the Sea Change Kids’ Outreach Program which is designed to help bring the Sea Change philosophy and experience to young people who otherwise would not have access to this incredible ecosystem.

matthew
Dr Matthew Zylstra
Ecologist

Matthew is an ecologist, educator and enabler working collaboratively with Sea Change and other organisations through the EarthCollective network. He spearheads the Sea Change Makers education and leadership programme.

He is a university field lecturer for Wildlands Studies and facilitates and advises on social-ecological change processes across diverse scales: from individuals to organisations and communities. Matthew completed his PhD through Stellenbosch University’s transdiscplinary doctoral program in sustainability and explored how meaningful nature experience deepens our connectedness andinspires learning and leadership for self and society.

swati
Swati Thiyagarajan
Environmental Journalist

Swati is one of India's best known environment journalists.

She is the environment editor of NDTV and the content editor of their special programs. Her show Born Wild, is the longest running wildlife conservation television show in India, of which she is the presenter, writer and researcher. She was the first Indian journalist to be invited to be on the jury of the Wildscreen Award or the green oscars as they are known.

She has been awarded the Ramnath Goenka Award, The Sanctuary Asia Wind Under the Wings Award and the Carl Zeiss Award for her work reporting on tiger conservation. Her solo outing as a filmmaker led to her making The Animal Communicator with her husband, which has had over 6 million views on YouTube. Swati spends her time between India and South Africa and has just authored a book Born Wild: Journeys into the heart of India and Africa. She is heading up the Sea Change Project Outreach campaign. Her main interest is in exploring shared spaces between humans and animals and believes that greater co-existence in the coming years will be the only way to save the wild.

fanine
Faine Pearl Loubser
Documentarian

Faine is a young documentary filmmaker with a deep passion for the ocean. Her love for nature was fostered by her parents through long camping trips in the Namib desert and through many ocean-related adventures. With an incredible desire to capture the feeling of being in the ocean, it was the gift of a GoPro that enabled her to share her vision. Camera in hand, Faine would make solo trips into the sea along the Cape Peninsula seeking to capture her underwater world. This mostly included diving without a wetsuit sometimes in temperatures as low as 9 degrees Celsius. It was a natural progression that Craig Foster, a close family friend, would nurture and mentor Faine’s passion for the sea and unlock a need to explore more, learn more and open up to the incredible mystery of nature. “I lost my heart in the sea, only to find my soul.” Faine is an integral part of the Sea Change tribe. Follow her antics on instagram.

jannes with background
Dr Jannes Landschoff
Marine Biologist

Jannes is dedicated to deepen the explorations of the underwater kelp forest world, and to add scientific aspects to the manifold exciting discoveries made by the Sea-Change Team. Jannes grew up on the North Sea coast in Germany where he worked for local and international marine nature conservancies. After studying Biology and Environmental Management at the University of Kiel, Germany, he moved to Cape Town to further his knowledge in the marine world. He has since received a Masters in Applied Marine Sciences and a Ph.D. in Marine Biology from the University of Cape Town. Jannes has authored over a dozen articles in international scientific journals and book chapters on the biodiversity and ecology of marine invertebrates, and also described several species of hermit crabs as new to science.

Through our work, we have started
a movement of ‘emotional ecology’,
where people feel a meaningful
connection to wild places and the
animals that live in them.

We have been tracking animals and learning their secrets for hundreds of thousands of years. The survival of our ancestors depended on it and it lingers in our DNA.

But because of how our lifestyle has evolved, we have lost this deep connection with nature and ourselves. That’s why we are drawn to The Great African Sea Forest. In this place, uninhabited by humans, we can track sea-life, learn its behaviour and see nature’s patterns in progress.

The sea has always been linked to our evolution and our changing consciousness. The origins of all life on earth began in the ocean. This means that our DNA evolved from sea-creatures and our great, great ancestors were some special species of fish. The latest archaeological evidence suggests that the modern human mind evolved at the sea and that the relationship we had with the ocean helped fuel our brains. Rock art depicting fish and sea-life, suggests that the ocean has always had great symbolic relevance and power in our collective unconscious.

Our love for the Great African Sea Forest is built on our daily interactions with this extraordinary place. We are committed to sharing that love and experience with as many people as we can reach. We hope to play a part in bringing our ancient relationship with nature and the ocean back to life in our rapidly changing world.