• 2023
  • 30 mins


  • 2023
  • 30 mins



OUR SEA FOREST, narrated by Chris Packham, tells the moving story of how a once thriving underwater forest, home to a multitude of different sea creatures was lost, and its slow road to recovery. Told through the eyes of Eric Smith, a 74-year-old free diver, who’s been diving in Sussex since he was 11 years old, it tells of how a once thriving ecosystem was destroyed by trawling. But this is also a powerful story of hope.  In 2021 a landmark ruling, initiated by the Sussex Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority (IFCA) protected over 300 sq. kilometres of seabed. Filmed over three years, OUR SEA FOREST includes remarkable scenes as Eric dives with giant 40-pound sting rays, witness’s mussel beds return, and rare seabream breeding on the seabed again.

Kelp beds are a vital marine ecosystem.   Across the world they are in serious decline making this a story of both local and international importance.

Catch up with this show on iplayer

Eric Smith and his daughter Catrine Priestley run the community FACEBOOK page Sussex Underwater – GIVE THEM A FOLLOW!

We support the work of the SUSSEX KELP RECOVERY PROJECT – please check out their site and GIVE THEM A FOLLOW TOO, The Sussex Kelp Recovery Project is made up of  a team of leading scientists from around the UK, NGO’s, the government body Sussex IFCA and local authorities including Adur and Worthing Coucil. We believe the recovery needs to be monitored scientifically , and that nature will run it course, and that the kelp should restore naturally.



Broadcast Now

The Independant

The Mirror




one man’s deeply emotional story about saving a kelp forest - The Guardian- Hollie Richardson
“Some people just make you feel better about the world, and Eric Smith, a 74-year-old free diver, is one of them… An inspiring tale.” - The Sun
“Hopeful environmental stories are few and far between these days, which makes this short film – about the recovery of a Sussex kelp forest that had been destroyed by trawling – so special to watch… It’s hard not to feel emotional…” - The Observer - Holly Richardson
“Sharp, climate-focussed documentary.” - The Guardian - Ammmar Kalia
"Diver horror after destruction of sea bed' - The Mirror - Sarah Wallis
"Father & daughter on why this seabed worth saving" - The Independent - Yolanthe Fawehinmi
Behind the scenes with the production team - Broadcast - Sarah Cunliffe & Nathalie Grace
“… remarkable story…” - The Daily Telegraph - Veronica Lee
"This beautiful, heart-wrenching and truly hopeful film..." - Outrage & Optimism
  • Producer/ Director :
    Sarah Cunliffe
  • Narrator:
    Chris Packham
  • Editor:
    Francesca Oldfield
  • Photography:
    James Blake
  • Underwater Photography:
    Paul Boniface
  • Underwater Photography:
    Nathalie Grace
  • Additional Photography:
    Martin Davies
  • Additional Photography:
    Gail Jenkinson
  • Additional Photography:
    Angus Peel
  • Additional Photography :
    Toby Russell
  • Additional Photography:
    Leo Scott-Batey
  • Additional Photography:
    Eric Smith
  • Additional Photography:
    Mark Sharman
  • Additional Photography:
    Sim Warren
  • Head of Water Safety:
    Andy Piers Morris
  • Water Safety Teams:
    Neville Blake
  • Water Safety Teams:
    Clive Mills
  • Water Safety Teams:
    Sussex Underwater Free Divers
  • Thanks to:
    Sean Ashworth
  • Thanks to:
    Henri Brocklebank
  • Thanks to:
    Sussex Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority
  • Graphics:
    Tim Varlow
  • Music:
    Ty Unwin
  • Music:
    David Mitchum
  • Post Production Picture:
    The Virtual Post
  • Colorist & On-Line Editor:
    Philippa Beazley-Swanson
  • Post Production Sound:
    Red Six Mix
  • Dubbing Mixer:
    Andrew Wilson
  • Sound Editor:
    Owen Peters
  • Production Manager:
    Katrina Chaloner
  • Production Assistant:
    Bobby Cross
  • Production Assistant:
    Amanda Fairey
  • Production Assistant:
    Natasha Maworera
  • Production Assistant:
    Izzy Green
  • Edit Assistant:
    Rhiannon Burton
  • Edit Assistant:
    Katie Taylor
  • Head of Finance:
    Kim Keys
  • Executive Producer :
    Emma Ross
  • Executive Producer:
    Mark Woodward
  • Commissioning Editor for BBC:
    Diana Hare
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