‘Inside Africa’ explores Cape Peninsula’s kelp forests

Posted on 30 May 2019

This week on Inside Africa, CNN International explores the extraordinary kelp forest, rich in marine life and biodiversity, on the coast of South Africa’s Cape Peninsula. With award-winning filmmaker Craig Foster, Inside Africa looks at how The Sea Change Trust is fighting to protect South Africa’s diverse coastline.

Foster has been diving through kelp forests on the southernmost tip of Africa for seven years. He tells CNN, ‘It’s like a second home to me. I feel it’s my underwater home, I feel very relaxed. It’s a three-dimensional liquid forest… you can imagine if you were on land, you can be floating up in the high canopy and then you could jump off the top and fly down to the forest floor.’

Alongside others, Foster has founded an organisation called The Sea Change Trust, which campaigns to conserve the kelp forest and make it an international landmark for biodiversity.

Part of the role of The Sea Change Trust is to educate young scientists about the array of aquatic species found in the forest to conserve them.

Marine Biologist Loyiso Dunga could barely swim before he met Foster, but now goes snorkelling with him most weekends. He tells CNN how he overcame his fear of the water: ‘Observing [the] kelp forests kind of drove me and made me look past the fear. Yes, I’m scared today, but I’m going to discover endless things in the kelp forest so it [has] always been like that kind of compromise.’

Loyiso Dunga is part of the same marine biology programme as Luther Adams and Makogsto ‘Sizo’ Sizakele.

Sizakele tells CNN about the benefits of being part of The Sea Change Trust: ‘I come from a very academic, quite rigid environment and this is a little bit more fluid in that it takes in bits and pieces from everywhere, and it’s able to create the story. And stories are key for people to understand what you’re talking about. And I thought that is so powerful… It does something very different for a scientist. How I communicate [with] the ocean now is completely different.’

Foster also works closely with archaeologists who have been excavating on the southern African coastline for over a decade, adding a new chapter to the story of early humans.

He tells Inside Africa why he has decided to help the archaeologists: ‘You are basically looking at an enormous explosion of human consciousness at around one hundred thousand [years ago] which you don’t see at this level anywhere else in the world. It is kind of the place where we woke up as humans… They have found the oldest art and the oldest science on earth, and tremendously sophisticated people living here at an ancient period.’

Dr Kelly Sink, Marine Programme Manager at the South African National Biodiversity Institute, explains to CNN why South Africa’s diverse coast needs to be protected.

‘I think our appreciation of what is on our doorstep… I think that’s where our work comes together as we know the value of a kelp forest in terms of productivity, and many of the more scientific aspects. There are many animals that are only found here… in these kelp forests. But there’s also this human heritage story, which is globally unique. I think it makes both stories more powerful.’


Image: Supplied

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