South African diver exposes the key lives of sea creatures

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(CNN) β€” The Atlantic Ocean off the southern-most tip of Africa is so chilly it seems like your pores and skin is burning. However nonetheless Craig Foster slips into the frigid water day by day, and not using a wetsuit or scuba gear, off to discover an underwater kingdom.

Some may name him reckless — prior to now, Foster, a filmmaker, has dived with Nile crocodiles in Botswana’s Okavango Delta and swum with nice white sharks. However for the previous eight years, he has turned his consideration to an unlimited underwater kelp forest off the west coast of South Africa the place he spends his days monitoring sea creatures.

He has now revealed a guide, together with fellow diver Ross Frylinck, documenting his shut encounters with these wild animals.

The guide, “Sea Change: Primal Joy and the art of underwater tracking,” particulars how he touched a cat shark on its “nostril” earlier than it lay relaxed in his fingers “tame as a pet.” It describes how an infinite stingray wrapped its wings round him for a number of horrifying seconds, and the way a Cape clawless otter reached out to the touch his face.

However his most memorable encounter was with an octopus he befriended and accompanied on hunts.

Foster said it took years of diving and learning how to completely relax around animals before they started engaging with him.

Foster mentioned it took years of diving and studying find out how to fully chill out round animals earlier than they began participating with him.

Sea Change Undertaking

Foster’s octopus even made a cameo on the BBC’s “Blue Planet II” documentary final yr, the place it demonstrated a powerful camouflage approach through which it grabs shells and stones to construct a brief armored shell round itself to beat back small predators.

This is only one of dozens of never-seen-before behavioral traits that Foster has witnessed on his dives. He has found seven new species, together with a shrimp that was named after him: Heteromysis Fosteri.

Risks within the deep

Unsurprisingly, Foster would not concern the larger beasts that patrol the ocean forest.

“Definitely (it’s scary) for those who’re not anticipating it and a giant white shark is there in entrance of you and the water is murky,” he instructed CNN. “However to be trustworthy there’s little or no to concern from the animals, they aren’t the hazard.”

Over the years Foster has taken thousands of intimate photos of wildlife, including this extreme close up of a pyjama catshark's eye.

Over time Foster has taken hundreds of intimate images of wildlife, together with this excessive shut up of a pyjama catshark’s eye.

Sea Change Undertaking

But Foster has put his life on the road within the ocean.

“I’ve come very near loss of life plenty of occasions, however by no means near loss of life from a shark,” he mentioned. “It is all the time being thrown by an enormous wave onto a rock, being minimize into items, or jammed in a cave underwater.”

He’s extra aware of the a number of threats dealing with the kelp forest: plastic and chemical air pollution, over fishing, poaching, ocean mining and local weather change.

By his work Foster hopes to boost consciousness of what he calls the “nice African sea forest” β€” which spans from Cape City up the coast to Namibia.

This specific kelp forest extends for 1,000 kilometers and is simply 100 meters extensive. It is among the most efficient ecosystems on the planet, offering meals, shelter and the perfect habitat for numerous species together with endangered sea snails known as abalone, the Cape fur seal and quite a lot of shark species.

Foster believes that if he can get others to think about this sea forest as one of many pure wonders of the world, very similar to the Great Barrier Reef, they are going to be impressed to preserve it.

Marine scientist Kerry Sink is main the cost to guard South Africa’s distinctive and threatened offshore marine life.

Defending underwater worlds

However Foster additionally harassed the necessity for marine protected areas to additional preserve South Africa’s waters.

Final month, South Africa’s Division of Environmental Affairs approved the declaration of 20 marine protected areas, collectively overlaying 50,000 sq. kilometers. This implies 5% of the nation’s oceans at the moment are protected, in comparison with 0.4% beforehand.

“We at the moment are working to strive get to 10%,” mentioned Foster. “I believe marine protected areas are completely crucial, we must always ideally be at 50%.”

He provides that it must be in everybody’s curiosity to “honor our pact with the wild.”

“Our African ancestors lived right here for lots of of hundreds of years and left us with a very intact ecosystem,” he mentioned. “It is our obligation to do the identical for our youngsters.”



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