sea forest life A shiver of spotted gully sharks glides silently through the sea forest. They grow to a length of 2m and are shy, harmless creatures. When swimming with them, we try to minimize our movements, allowing them to pass centimeters from our faces. A common octopus wraps itself in the slippery fronds of the kelp forest. This cloak of leather-like armour protects the octopus from predators. This strange and beautiful visitor to the sea forest is called a blue dragon or sea swallow. It lives by floating on the open ocean, eating bluebottles and storing their stinging cells in its body to repel predators. The Patchwork cuttlefish is a shape-shifting master of disguise. When threatened it can develop large eye spots, or lifts two arms vertically in the shape of a set of ‘horns’.

remember you are wild The Southern coast of South Africa is considered to be the origin of human consciousness as we know it, and yet as a species, we couldn’t be further away from our wild origins. We’ve lost the most important and very simple truth: the earth and the ocean give us every breath of air and every mouthful of food. However, an incredible thing begins to happen as one opens up to nature; occasionally there are fleeting yet paradoxically timeless moments when the boundary between ourselves and the world dissolves. The Linton Panel is one of the great San rock art masterpieces. It reminds us of how the San masters spoke of their relationship with animals and the divine. They said they built threads to each creature, and over time these threads became "Ropes to God". I had taught my son Tom not to fear sharks, and over the years he has grown to respect and love them. From a very young age he was comfortable diving with large sharks in the Sea Forest. Craig Foster When you spend a lot of time in the Sea Forest, you learn to relax and move like a forest creature. When this happens there is a shift in your relationship with some of these animals, and sometimes they even allow you to dive with them.

the great african
sea forest
There is a wild undersea forest living at the tip of Africa. However, because the water is cold and often rough, and sharks and stingrays as big as cars patrol the fringes, few people ever venture there. Icy, nutrient rich waters from two major ocean currents create the environment in which this magical underwater forest grows. This Great African Sea forest is one of the richest ecosystems on the planet, and many species and behaviours entirely new to science are waiting to be discovered. A patch of old growth forest inside a Marine Protected Area; one of the few places where you still find healthy families of red roman reef fish. The outer world of tides and creatures, moon and kelp, bird cries, lapping waves, animal tracks – these are all a mirror for the human psyche. They make us who we are. If these subtle things are replaced by the brutish mechanics of industrial life – car tyres screeching, television news, air conditioning, white noise – the psyche becomes a psychotic place filled with things that disturb the primal mind - Craig Foster

wild language I spent hundreds of hours walking along the shoreline learning to track. For many weeks this strange track had me foxed. Eventually I realised it had been left by a sea plant called acid weed. Craig Foster For the San Bushmen of the Central Kalahari the wind and the insects are the timekeepers for tracking, but there seemed to be no equivalent in the water. How could I ever track in a world where everything was constantly moving? I dived down and found a striped catshark wedged in a small cave. Curiously, a perfect strip of sand ran across its head. On reviewing a photograph of the shark’s head, I realised that the line of sand was in fact the trail of a mollusk. Craig Foster One of my most interesting tracking experiences was with an otter on a remote rocky beach. For 50m I backtracked a set of the strangest prints I had ever seen. It looked like an artist had painted perfect otter prints in black on the rocks. Suddenly the prints stopped at a large patch of black ink. In my mind I saw the otter coming out of the water and onto the shore with either an octopus or a cuttlefish in its mouth. It ate the cephalopod and dipped its paws into the ink. As it walked away, the otter printed perfect ink tracks on the smooth boulders. Craig Foster The octopus may be a silent creature, but it has its own visual language, ‘speaking’ through its body posture and skin.