The Hope of False Bay
PHOTO CREDIT: Craig Foster - Seachange Project
For most people the name Craig Foster is synonymous with internationally acclaimed documentary films capturing the essence of African hunter-gatherers and depicting the deep connection humans have with animals. But even after years of filming in remote and arid areas like the Kalahari it was always the ocean that Craig Foster returned to with fond memories of the beloved golden forests of his youth. It was where he finally felt he had found home as he immersed himself in the icy waters and kelp forests of False Bay.
“As a child our bedroom was below the high water mark in Bakoven – long before it was the trendy place it is today. From a very early age, my brother Damon and I, dived the kelp forest and foraged together as children. It seemed a natural progression to move on to making movies about the hunter gatherers in Africa.
“After 25 years of working seven days a week on films some of which took over three years to complete, I have come home to False Bay. For the last four years I dive every day, immersing myself and have attempted to develop a deep relationship with the sea and I was surprised at the amount species of animals that had previously moved away from me, now came in and made contact and realised I was not a threat. The otters come up to you and if you keep still, touch your feet, then your mouth, while sting rays brush against you, sharks tend to bump against once rib cage, while octopus or cuttlefish ,” Craig said.
Craig started taking friends out with him and Tom, his son, now 12 has gone with him since age five. One day he invited Ross Frylinck, who started Wavescapes with Steve Pike to launch South Africa’s first ocean film festival. Craig introduced him to new way of looking at Kelp Forest, an eco-psychological approach if you would. Put most simply, Ecopsychology explores the synergistic relation between personal health and well-being and the health and well-being of our home, the Earth. Craig found the daily dives healing and shared the emotional connection he felt when immersed in the sea. This very connection was indeed helping him to develop a more sustainable lifestyle and remedying alienation from nature.
“People in modern society are suffering a massive assault on the psyche from this disconnection. If we can get people to connect with coastal intertidal environment, they will over time forge a bond until they simply can’t pollute and can’t over harvest.
“I fell in love with environment at a very young age and through the films I created with my brother I wanted to bring that love to the public to a bigger audience. Now my main inspiration stems from a deep passion and love and need to get into the ocean. If we look at the hunter gathers who lived near the ocean, for them the surface of water is a metaphor for the spirit world. Craig has noticed that we literally go into another world when we cut through the surface and it is like a baptism every time. There is a massive shift – and this shift is also why we are fearful of it – yet it is healing, you need only look up the health benefits of cold thermogenesis to see that, and - it is transformative.
Craig has noticed that eating small quantities of kelp every week and daily immersions - without a wet suit - in the cold water up to an hour and a half at a time, has greatly improved his immune system.
“I believe that the kelp forests were the place where humans first learnt to wade, swim and eventually to dive. I feel they were lured in by their favourite foods and over 1000s of years learnt in this way. The great thing about learning to swim like this is that if you make a mistake the kelp forest staves offers a safe way back to shore.
“People the world over are deeply attracted to the ocean and the most highly valued properties are in these areas. My work is about exploring the deep relationship humans have with the sea,” Craig said.
After four years of intensive research, by Craig and his friend Ross, they have been advised by a team of top international scientists and combining this cutting edge science, African indigenous knowledge systems and their own face-to-face observations they are telling the new story of human origins and the ancient relationship we all have with the sea and it is called the Sea-Change. We encourage you to visit their incredible website to find out more about their work. Craig and Ross are currently planning a world exhibition tour to showcase our incredible South African marine environment and its extraordinary human origin story.