False Bay South Africa and “My Octupus Teacher”
One of the critical hits of the fall Netflix season is “My Octopus Teacher,” a moving documentary about a filmmaker/free-diver and the common octopus he follows daily for about a year. The intelligent, affectionate mollusk changes his life, and we are treated to spectacular under- and above-water footage — and a profound life experience.
Filming took place in the frigid waters of False Bay in the Atlantic, near Cape Town, between the Cape Peninsula and the mountains in the extreme south-west of South Africa. The mouth of the bay faces south, with Cape Point to the west and Cape Hangklip to the east.
False Bay is known for diverse marine life: besides octopuses, spectacular fish and jellyfish, crabs, brittle stars and pyjama sharks, all living in the lush, kelp forest.
The filmmaker, Craig Foster, lived on False Bay, and as he explains, his family “had this little wooden bungalow, literally below the high water mark.” During storms, Foster remembered that the ocean would “smash the doors down and fill up the bottom of the house.”Recommended For You
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The population grew to between 2,000 and 3,000 birds, but the numbers have dwindled due to over-fishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and irresponsible tourism. The African Penguin has now been classified as an endangered species.
Boulders Beach and its surrounding beaches are now part of the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area. Dunes and vegetation provide close viewing, and protect nesting penguins. Wheelchair-friendly boardwalks accommodate thousands of visitors a year.
Overlooking the bay is the statue of the Great Dane Just Nuisance. Enlisted in the 1930s, he is the most famous dog in Naval History. There’s a special display for him at the Simon’s Town Museum; his grave site is on nearby Red Hill.
Jubilee Square shops offer vintage goods. And when you’re hungry, local oysters, prawns, classic fish and chips, and the catch of the day are local favorites in and around Wharf Street.
On and Under the Water
You can kayak along the coastline to visit the penguins at Boulders Beach and dive with the experts. And the truly adventurous can see the famed great white shark in False Bay, through activities from cage or scuba diving to breaching and predation tours.
You can also cruise for whale-watching (between June and November), exploring ocean caves, and enjoying the cliff faces and spectacular view of Cape Point from offshore.
But if you want to see the now beloved little octopus who lived in False Bay’s swaying kelp forest … you’ll still need to watch the documentary.