17 June 2019

South Africa: Octopus Fishing in False Bay Is Killing Bryde's Whales, and With Them, a Magical and Unseen Kingdom


Octopus fishing off the coast of Cape Town is supposedly being carried out for 'research purposes'. But no research has been published and the gear being used is killing not just octopi, but also Bryde's whales.

In a golden forest floating beneath a deep blue sea lives a liquid creature with three hearts, nine brains and eight arms. In her magic kingdom, she shares her domain with hundreds of thousands of other weird and wonderful creatures that swim and surf and glide and dig and swoop and stick. In the larger kingdom, leviathans roam and other supremes with razor teeth and eyes that track in starlight watch over it all.

Perhaps this sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale, but it's the truth of the great African sea forest, the wondrous kelp ecosystem that lives just beneath our waters. While the average person might only see brown fronds on the surface of the water or washed-up plants on the beach, it is an incredibly rich ecosystem of biodiversity, animal behaviours and predator and prey drama as dramatic as anything found in our terrestrial forests. However, this is no Disney story but something out of the pages of the Grimm...

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