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Underwater Wild

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My thanks to Mariner Books for a temporary digital review copy via NetGalley of ‘Underwater Wild: My Octopus Teacher's Extraordinary World’ by Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck in exchange for an honest review. 

This is an impressive book of marine photography. It opens with an inspirational Introduction by Jane Goodall. It is a personal account of the authors’ experiences of swimming in the Great African Sea Forest. What is even more impressive is that they are free diving without oxygen tanks or wetsuits. 

Craig Foster is a well known South African documentary film maker and founder of the Sea Change Project.  He won an Oscar for his 2020 film, ‘My Octopus Teacher’, that chronicles his bond with a common octopus that he filmed over the coursof a year. 

As well as a filmmaker Foster is a marine biologist who had trained himself to free dive in cold water for extended periods of time. Some years ago he discovered in Ross Frylinck a kindred spirit and they now regularly dive together as well as collaborate on the Sea Change Project.

Both men share personal anecdotes including their experiences of loss and how their relationship with the ocean assisted in their coming to terms with their pasts. The descriptions of their diving experiences are inspiring and in places quite spiritual in nature.

Still, it is the photography that makes this book so extraordinary. It is breathtaking with many closeup images of sea creatures. Some photos of the kelp forest almost seem to move.  Both authors seek to put to rest misconceptions about sharks. One photo that stood out for me was of Craig’s son, Tom, with two small sharks lying motionless in his arms.

Of course, Craig’s octopus teacher features in both photographs and text. I hope to see the film soon as I am very interested in these fascinating creatures.

Overall, ‘Underwater Wild’ is a beautifully presented coffee table hardback. I feel that it would also make an ideal Christmas gift for nature lovers.
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Underwater Wild 
by Craig Foster; Ross Frylinck 
Pub Date: Nov 16,2021 
Mariner Books 

Thanks to Mariner Books and Netgalley for the digital ARC.  This is a beautiful book and it would make a wonderful gift for a marine lover.  
Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck regularly dive together in the awe-inspiring kelp forests off South Africa, without wetsuits or oxygen tanks. Craig had dived this way for years, including alongside the octopus that inspired My Octopus Teacher.
I will be recommending this lovely book! I love the pictures of things I will probably never see underwater. 

5 stars
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Craig Foster is a diver who, with Ross Frylinck, dives regularly off the coast of South Africa without wetsuits or oxygen tanks.  His experiences with the beautiful underwater forests and creatures that dwell there led to the remarkable and much-talk-about film My Octopus Teacher.
Building on the success and interest in My Octopus Teacher, Foster and Frylinck have put together a beautiful coffee-table style book packed with photos from their underwater explorations and a relatively simple, direct narrative from Foster explaining his journey. Some of that narrative includes Foster's reflection on some of the more traumatic moments in his life, such as his divorce and leaving his wife and son. But diving has been his refuge during times of despair and we get the notion that this underwater wild has been a life-saver for him and he passes that on to his son who completes a right of passage in Foster's own chosen world.

While Foster's narrative definitely rounds out the book, the real appeal here is the beautiful photography.  Sea life is still a great mystery to most people, and the photography here truly opens a window into this world. The commentaries on the photos, letting us know what we're looking at (as sometimes an animal's camouflage works so well [as nature intended] that we could miss some of the animals or what they're doing) are vastly more interesting to this reader than Foster's story.

I will admit that given the cover photo and the tag line at the top of the book "From the creators of My Octopus Teacher" I was expecting a lot more octopus photos in the book. But of course, this is Underwater Wild, not strictly a companion piece to the documentary.

I think that Foster and Frylinck are stepping up and bringing back an awareness to the undersea world.  Not since Jacques Cousteau have we had anyone really promoting ocean life the way Foster is, and we need that right now.

The book has a great introduction from Jane Goodall.

Looking for a good book? Underwater Wild by Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck is a beautiful coffee-table style book and you'll want to share these photos and the things you learn with all your guests and friends.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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My thanks to NetGalley and Mariner Books for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.

Ok, the good, the pictures are STUNNING.  The stories of what was discovered under the water and how the one author navigated under the ocean and how he got to learn the environment how the animals came to trust him in various ways, super interesting.

The bad?  I really don't care about the daddy-issues the one guy had.  I was expecting a book about life under the sea, not about how one guy had issues with his dad abandoning him and how he stole his step-dad's gun as a kid, shot and killed a bird with it and then got in trouble about it.  

Soooo....mixed thoughts on this book.  I expected a straight up nature book, with the usual, "humans suck and are killing this awesome planet and everything on it" bits, because that's true, but I didn't need a tiny microcosm of examples where humans suck that just barely touches on the nature part.  

I think all of the bits about the one guy's life could have easily been cut and made the book better, or at least more on-topic, than it was.  

I was waffling between two and three stars and am going to go with 2, since after reading this book a few weeks ago, all I can really remember is my distaste for the biography parts and I can't really remember any of the nature bits.  

Recommended if you have an interest in the topic, just beware the navel gazing.
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This book had it all - beautiful pictures, educational information, heartfelt stories.  I can't put into words how much I loved this book.  After reading it I instantly went and watched My Octopus Teacher which was also amazing!
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What a beautiful and special book! Highly recommend for nature and animal lovers! The pictures were wonderful and the story is mesmerizing and uplifting!
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Underwater Wild: My Octopus Teacher's Extraordinary World by Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck is currently scheduled for release on October 19 2021. Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck regularly dive together in the awe-inspiring kelp forests off South Africa, without wetsuits or oxygen tanks. In Ross, he found a kindred spirit, someone who also embraced the ancient methods of acclimating his body to frigid waters, but whose eyes had not yet adjusted to the transcendent wonder Craig saw each time they dove. In the stories that make up this book, readers swim alongside Ross as he grows from skeptic to student of the underwater wild. And in the revelatory marine science behind the stunning photos, we learn how to track sea hares, cuttlefish, and limpets, and we witness strange new behaviors never before documented in marine biology. We realize that a whole world of wonder, and an innate wildness within us all, emerge anew when we simply observe. 

I have to admit that I picked Underwater Wild to read because of the photography. Seriously, the images are stunning and well worth a look at the book all on their own. They are simply stunning. The text is well written and talks about much more than the marine life feature. The narrative style brings readers along for the ride, showing rather than telling about what has been seen and learned. It is about marine life, exploration, family, relationships, and more. When paired with the photographs, the text gives an extra layer of wonder and heart to the book as a whole. I think this book will appeal to a wide range of readers, and some will definitely be taking more time to enjoy the pictures than the text, no mater how moving or interesting the information shared.
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The pictures in Underwater Wild are absolutely stunning!  What a beautiful book!

I enjoyed the many stories about interactions with the wildlife in the kelp forest.  However, I was much less interested in the large portion of the text dedicated to the personal lives of the two authors.  When I picked this book up, I expected it to be about undersea plants and animals and the authors' interactions with them and observations of them.  It did have this component and it was very well done.  However, I did not expect (and was not particularly interested in) the many pages dedicated to how these interactions affected their personal lives outside of the water.
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Much of this stupendous book takes place in the South Africa kelp forests where two adventurous divers who have trained themselves to dive without wetsuits or oxygen tanks observe underwater nature.  Craig Foster filmed My Octopus Teacher and this book, Underwater Wild, is based on their dives.  Dives occur so often that the two friends are able to tell whether something is out of place or moved or hatched in the kelp forests they know so well.  Some creatures grow accustomed to them and as they are not fished they respond to and by touch.  Others remain hidden and wary.  Of course the ocean is constantly pulsating with fish entering and leaving the realm, always a kaleidoscope of things to see wherever they look, a cacophony of sounds, discoveries waiting to happen.  Creatures teach many lessons and Craig and Ross are eager and willing students.

Simultaneously, personal stories of these two men are told, both riddled with heartache.  As they grapple with their pasts, they find meaning and healing in the underwater wild.  The amount of information I learned is staggering from the miraculous gender change of the red roman reef fish to the gentleness of pyjama catshark to limpet tracks to peacock klipvis to aggressive false plum anemones to box jellyfish harpoons.  But amongst the most mindblowing to me are the tuberculate cuttlefish capabilities, pointing reticulated starfish and helmet shell snail's hole drilling skills.  And then there are the clever octopuses.  No wonder Craig and Ross are in awe of them.  Creation is a marvelous thing.  Underwater is definitely an entirely different world with more species below the depths than above.  Just think of the known species...I reckon the number of those which are unidentified is even greater!

Craig's mental maps are so well done, so very captivating!  The vivid photography is stellar and alive.  Personal stories add a special connection.

If you are the slightest bit interested in underwater wilderness, do read this beautiful and informative book.

My sincere thank you to Mariner Books and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this stunner of a book!
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I enjoyed the beautiful pictures, and the story.  What I didn't like was that the program that I read through scrolled up, and didn't do a side to side page turn, so it took me a while to realize that most of the pictures are more than one page spreads.  The photographer is an evolutionist, and that's not my belief, but I still enjoyed the book overall.
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Underwater Wild
My Octopus Teacher's Extraordinary World
by Craig Foster; Ross Frylinck

This is such a wonderful feel good book! Foster grew up near the ocean and was naturally drawn to it. He was away from it doing his filming and photo shoots and it became stressful. He needed to get back to himself. He came back to the ocean. He decided to start swimming and diving again but without diving gear. He wanted to do it like the ancestors did. He got a friend named Ross to join him, as crazy as the guy thought Foster was at first it didn't stop him from joining in. The water there is also very COLD! But with some doing, they managed! Then the experiences began!

Foster felt like filming again! He filmed the many creatures living in the area. We get to meet them too. The photos are stunning! Sharks, fish of all kinds, and forest of kelp. But the main object finally presents itself.

An octopus is the main focus. Curious, amazing, and creative! The octopus showed Foster her many tricks of travel and camouflage among other things. Octopus only live about a year. Foster went down daily to see her. He watched her whole life unfold. Wonderfully writing, photography, and very lovely presented. Goodbye little octopus.

I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read this delightful and wonderful book. Millions of people can live and visit this little octopus vicariously through this book! I know I did!
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This is a National Geographic-like caliber display of underwater WILD sea life, photographed brilliantly, and liberally shared.  This vibrantly portrayed portfolio, is a work of a lifetime which will enamour one and all who slowly turn the pages, taking in the sea scenes of the Kelp Sea Forest off the coast of South Africa.  There is so much to take in of all these wonders of God's creation that the viewer will want to take his/her sweet time to peruse and digest all the pictures of the teeming life below sea level.

Write-ups from both Craig and Ross, which accompany the photographs, will have the reader become enthusiastic about all these creatures, many of which he/she may never have seen heretofore.  These include such creatures as the very intriguing limpets, sea hares (the coolest to me); catsharks, seahorses, rock suckers, klipvis, octopuses (extra special to Craig) and so many more.  The reader may also find the hairs on ones' arms do calisthenics at mention of great white sharks hovering silently within mere inches of their dive spot.  Craig and Ross would tell you to respect these creatures, though, not fear them.

The authors practiced diving without the usual scuba-diving equipment and over time, felt themselves become more integrated with the WILD world below surface.  They believe, too, that they have gained much  benefit personally in life and health.

Being one who does not agree with evolution, and occult-like practices, I would have preferred less mention of those references.  The authors speak of going back to their original 'source' of life but I'd like to briefly remark, that that 'Source' is God, Who created all these creatures, as well as human beings, and it is not from melding cognitively and mingling physically with the creatures from the depth of the sea, nor spending hours (adding up years' worth) under water with them, as marvelous as that 'world' is.  This though, seems to be their praxis.

To round up the pages, besides space for acknowledgements and index, is Craig's mental map of the various areas of  specific habitat niches in which he was most likely to discover the location where a particular species hung out and/or hunted prey among the kelp forest fronds, nooks and crannies 'below deck'.  Overall, this is a 'chance-of-a-lifetime' book find, in which to gain astounding knowledge and insight of creatures we may never ever have discovered for ourselves, especially by those of us who would prefer to remain on terra firme.  Thanks Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck!

                                                                 ~Eunice C., Reviewer/Blogger~

                                                                          September 2021

Disclaimer:  This is my honest opinion based on the review copy given by  the publisher.

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This book was very breezy to get through and the pictures were amazing! If you've seen My Octopus Teacher or just like ocean stuff, this book is definitely worth it. Craig and Ross's journey into the waters is inspiring, and some of the things they've seen make me jealous I don't live near an ocean. 

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review!
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I think I’m the only person that hasn’t heard about My Octopus Teacher! You could say, I’ve been living under a rock. Get it? (wink, wink)

After reading Underwater Wild, I now have put My Octopus Teacher on my discovery to-do list.

This was an amazing read! Both in the beauty and dangers of the ocean uncovered and described as well as the heartfelt, emotional stories that were shared with the reader by the authors.

The pictures are beautiful as well. Some are the bright, colorful shots you’d see on National Geographic magazines and some are more dark, filled with the true wonders of the ocean. They are all spectacular in their own right and will bring you straight into the world of the oceans of South Africa.

In this day and age where humans are trashing our Earth and depleting all of our planet’s natural resources, it’s researchers like Foster and Frylinck that remind us what we all need to be fighting for. The natural beauty and health of our oceans.

This beautiful book would make a wonderful addition to any ocean lovers’ home. Releasing in November, this book could be perfect for a Christmas gift!

Thank you to #NetGalley for providing this book. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy and all views expressed are only my honest opinion.
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This is a phenomenal book.  It's taken me a while to write this review, because I can't put into words how incredible it is.

On one hand, it's a coffeetable book filled with the most astounding underwater photography and details (so many amazing details!) about the creatures that inhabit the Great African Sea Forests where the documentary "My Octopus Teacher" was filmed.  We learn about the myriad creatures who live in these forests, the stories they tell, and uncover amazing behaviours not previously documented.

On the other hand, it is an intimate journey of personal discovery and reflection.  Both Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck (producer and associate producer of "My Octopus Teacher", respectively) write eloquently of their journeys into the Sea Forest, and the journeys they have taken in their lives to get to this point.  This *now*.  To inner peace, wonder and enlightenment.  There are stories of loss, of joy, of heartbreak, and of transformation.  Above all, it is a book about the oneness, the wildness that lives in us all, if only we are open to finding it again.

I have pre-ordered a copy, because this is too beautiful for one read only.

This book will be pubished on 19 November.

~~Many thanks to Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.~~
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A fantastic coffee table book.  The authors of My Octopus Teacher are back with an amazing book about their experiences diving off the coast of South Africa.  What makes this unusual is that they dive without wetsuits or tanks.  As a diver, I cannot imagine how difficult this must be.  The reader gets to enjoy the road Ross travels in acclimating his body to this type of diving.  In doing so, the duo can truly see the underwater wonders.  

The stories they are willing to share are intimate, including Craig’s disclosure of his traumatic reaction to his divorce and leaving this wife and son.  The narration is moving and vast.  It makes the reader feel as if they are enjoying the same experiences.  For instance, Craig tells of riding the backs of giant tiger sharks in the open ocean and swimming freely among five great white sharks, “…learning how to interact with the world’s largest predators.  His next film took him ‘into the dragon’s lair’, where he pioneered the world’s first film of diving with Nile crocodiles in the Okavango Delta.”

The photographs are incredible and beyond description.  The photo of the pyjama catshark’s eye reflecting the underwater world is something very few people get the opportunity to experience.


I received an ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt through NetGalley.  This in no way affects my opinion or rating of this book.  I am voluntarily submitting this review and am under no obligation to do so.
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I was expecting to like this book but not as much as I did. This book was a perfect fit for me, I’m currently studying biology at college and this only made me more excited about my future. I loved the photographs and the texts that go with them.
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Thank you for the E-Arc NetGalley & Houghton Mifflin Press. This is a stunning tale of two men and their relationships with their family, children the sea and its creatures. Beautiful photos accompany thier stories throughout and I couldn’t have been more enchanted.
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Date reviewed/posted: March 17, 2021
Publication date: October 19, 2021

When life for the entire galaxy and planet has turned on its end, you are continuing to #maskup and #lockdown to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #thirdwave (#fourthwave #fifthwave?) is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today.

I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

From the creators of the Academy Award-winning documentary My Octopus Teacher, an immersive journey into the underwater world that inspired it—and holds transformative lessons for us all

Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck regularly dive together in the awe-inspiring kelp forests off South Africa, without wetsuits or oxygen tanks. Craig had dived this way for years, including alongside the octopus that inspired My Octopus Teacher. In Ross, he found a kindred spirit, someone who also embraced the ancient methods of acclimating his body to frigid waters, but whose eyes had not yet adjusted to the transcendent wonder Craig saw each time they dove. In the heart-wrenching stories that make up this unforgettable book, we swim alongside Ross as he grows from skeptic to student of the underwater wild. And in the revelatory marine science behind the stunning photos, we learn how to track sea hares, cuttlefish, and limpets, and we witness strange new behaviours never before documented in marine biology. We realize that a whole world of wonder, and an innate wildness within us all, emerge anew when we simply observe. 

My Octopus Teacher has captivated millions who long to connect with the natural world. Now, with Underwater Wild, the divers behind the film reveal a new vision of the sea, one full of wonder, new insights into marine biology, and life-changing teachings for even the most landbound of us.

This is a beautiful book with a beautiful message, but it is just too darn expensive for me to buy it for our library as it would be about $80CAD and we can buy a lot of books with sea life photos in it that are more appealing to our ESL-prominent crowd.  They would love the photos but few would read the text, but I do have a nephew who would LOVE this book so I would buy it for him.  The photos are beautiful as is the story and I will recommend it to people outside of my job who I know that it would appeal to.

As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙  (it deserves 5🐙  despite it not being purchased by us…..)
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If you were as mesmerized and moved by My Octopus Teacher as I was, you will be moved to tears by this beautiful, magnificent book. You will be immersed in the aquatic world, surrounded by octopuses, cuttlefish, and dozens of other amazing little seen, little understood creatures. Read this book and be charged forever, as you see yourself as a cog in a much larger, much more important world
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