ArtSpoken & Reviews

She Down There by Lynton Francois Burger

Jennifer de Klerk
03/31/2020 12:23:30

Jennifer de Klerk: If you are fascinated by the life of the sea, you cannot miss this poignant story of close encounters and connections under the waves.

Ultimately this is a love story, but it is also a travelogue of undersea adventure, a lyrical re-telling of myths and legends of the deep and a burning inditement of poachers and polluters.

It is no surprise that the author, Lynton Francois Burger, is a marine biologist, master diver and award-winning underwater photographer who has explored the oceans of the world. His first-hand knowledge, experience and passion are obvious in the scenes he describes so vividly, although they are depicted through the eyes of his characters.

Both Claire and Klaas stem from the First People, those who have a closer spiritual affinity to the natural forces of the world. Claire is of Canadian Haida descent and grew up with the legend of She Down There, Sedna, the Woman of the Sea.

Klaas traces back to the San, the Bushmen of South Africa. Born on the arid plains of the Karoo, once a primordial sea, he first discovers life underwater in an algae-filled farm dam.

This is their story. It is told concurrently until they finally find each other amid the tropical beauty and sparkling blue waters of Mozambique. Claire, recovering from her own tragedy, is working as a volunteer researching dugongs. Klaas, a former South African Navy diver, shows tourists the intricacies of the coral reefs.

Among the creatures they encounter in the water are orcas and sea cows, octopuses, seals, sharks, rays and ever-playful dolphins. On land, there are other challenges, from the constant struggle for funding to the plundering Chinese shark-fin trade.

Claire, Klaas and the other characters, including the Mozambican fisherfolk, are vivid and well-defined and the descriptions of land and sea are downright poetic.

Savour them and you will feel the sea breeze on your skin.

Lynton Francois Burger
Penguin/Random House
ISBN: 978-1-4859-0435-9

Jennifer de Klerk is editor of