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Sea7 On Demand | Ocean Activist Training

Ep 3. Pippa Ehrlich

My Octopus Teacher

Hosted by Lawrence Stafford

For episode 3 of Hell or High Water were joined by Pippa Ehrlich. Pippa is a conservation journalist, a filmmaker and Director of the hit Netflix Documentary, My Octopus Teacher.

For those not familiar, the film documents the incredible and most unlikely relationship between naturalist, Craig Foster and a curious young Octopus found in the Kelp Forests near Cape Town, South Africa. Following this inter-species connection over the course of a year, the film showcases one of the most profound underwater experiences and has been labelled as ’the love story that we all need right now”. It is a stunning piece of film that speaks on the fragility of life and humanities connection with nature.

Pippa is also a team member of the Sea Change Project - a collective of scientists, storytellers, journalists and filmmakers - dedicated to exploring and documenting The Great African Sea Forest. Their mission is one of 'nature storytelling’ - and that if you want to inspire behavioural change and a deeper understanding of nature, you need to speak to people from an emotional point of view.

Upon calling in a couple of weeks ago, Pippa had just that morning learnt the film had been shortlisted for Oscar nomination, so we got straight into it. We spoke on the overwhelming response the film has received since its release, the powerful role film and photography play in environmental and conservation efforts and her evolving relationship with the sea.


When I talk about filming it’s this process of Alchemy where you are mixing sound a visuals and storytelling – and you weave them together like magic – you can really immerse them in something – when someone is sucked into a story, the rest of the world disappears.

Show Notes

  • My Octopus Teacher
  • Mission Blue
  • Sea change Project
  • Netflix
  • Elevation Barn
  • Disconnection & reconnection with nature
  • First feature film – from relative anonymity to the world’s attention
  • Connecting people to the natural world
  • The Great African Sea Forest
  • Kelp forest - sequesters carbon, breaker for the swell, protecting coastlines
  • Diving, swimming, body surfing
  • Kalk Bay, Cape Town
  • Hope Spots
  • Namibia
  • Tasmania
  • Bristol, UK
  • Cornwall
  • Ocean Biodiversity and Ecosystems
  • Climate Change and the destruction of our coral reefs and kelp forests
  • Emotional Ecology - a meaningful connection to wild places and wildlife
  • Safeguarding wilderness
  • Becoming a Conservation Journalist in South Africa
  • Johannesburg
  • Elephants, Lions, Antelope
  • Cephalopods, Dolphins, Whales, Manta-rays, Orcas, Penguins, Otters, Sharks, Jellyfish, Cuttlefish.
  • The rhythms of the natural world.
  • Boulders beach
  • Hanli Prinsloo
  • I AM WATER Foundation
  • Community of species - overfishing of reef fish, lobster, abalone.
  • Save Our Seas Foundation - shark and ray scientists
  • Tracking and photography in the Kelp forests
  • Cold Thermogenesis - adapting to the cold waters
  • The power of filmmaking and photography for the conservation, activism and the environmental movement.
  • The toolbox to create a magical experience.
  • Universality of My Octopus Teacher - a love story, our relationship with nature, the significant problems of our time.
  • The fragility of our planet and the world around us.
  • The empowering focus of hope.
  • Young and future Marine Biologist
  • Transference of knowledge for scientific discovery
  • Marriage between science and storytelling.
  • Close interaction and encounters with nature and wildlife.
  • The conversation of interference and contact with marine life.
  • Sharing wild spaces with wild animals
  • Observing and engaging with wild animals to gain respect and to protect.
  • Launching local impact campaigns and international kelp forest alliances.
  • The momentum of a hit Netflix Documentary.

Further Reading



  • Craig Foster
  • Dr Jannes Landschoff
  • Ross Frylinck
  • Carina Rubin-Frankal
  • Swati Thiyagarajan
  • Faine Pearl Loubser
  • Roger Horrocks
  • Dr Sylvia Earle
  • James Reed, co-direcor
  • Sarah Edlestone,
  • Ellen Windemuth
  • Jinx Godphrey
  • Kyle Stroebel
  • Barry Donnelly
  • Kevin Smuts

Sound Design

by John Sampson a.k.a CJ MIRRA