EDIT 2: See the results of the investigation here.
This may be the biggest subject in OW swimming this week.
I recommend reading the comments on all also to see some of the bile directed at Penny and crew and some different opinions. If my very limited experience of press is anything to go by, the truth will more complex than is currently being portrayed.
Some comments I would make as a swimmer:
- There has to be complete trust between a swimmer and crew. The swimmer rarely knows the full story from the crew. Some swimmers want to be told the truth, some want to be lied to. Only distance swimmers and crew will really understand this dynamic. Afterwards or even during you might be angry or disagree with even simple things happening. But as a swimmer you’ve put your life into the hands of the crew. Make no mistake, distance swimming is one of the most extreme sports and it takes more than just the swimmer to accomplish.
- I haven’t met Penny Palfrey (though we have people we know in common). I’m pretty certain that she feels as I do about the sea, that she loves it and all its glory in the way only someone who spends their life in it could. I sure she is upset at any loss, more so than people that have never swum a metre or spent time in the sea and even more upset at the coverage and the vitriol aimed at her swim, but I doubt she feels she should have sacrificed herself. I’ll be interested in her thoughts. IF the events happened as are being portrayed, it’s entirely possible that she wishes she’d been pulled but she would not have been aware of anything. The swimmer is both the boss and the least aware, at the same time, but never in charge. That apparent dichotomy exists in every swim. But it’s also possible that she is happy with the situation as I’m sure she knows more about it than we do. I’m not a mind-reader and can only speculate.
- Any possible legal proceedings should it be determined there is a reason, would be interesting. Since I swim in water that doesn’t have fish (only dangerous sharks are called fish by OW swimmers), I don’t know whether they had to get any different permits for this swim. Or, if it happened outside territorial waters, then there will be no proceedings since as far as I am aware it’s not a protected area. Don’t misunderstand me there, I’m not saying something is ok or not depending on where it happens.
- The bile and hysteria toward Penny is completely unwarranted. People who wring their hands dump plastic that kill birds and turtles. They flush their condoms to choke wildlife. They eat fish that are only caught by processes whose byproduct is the seas being emptied (e.g. shark bycatch). They throw and flush their shit and phosphates everywhere and dump their poisons in the sea and still lecture other people while they drive around in SUVs. Environmental improvements will never be achieved by screeching mobs or dictats but by consensus amongst everyone. This is actually one of the primary tenets of the environmental movement but unheeded both by Green politicians and many activists. (The sea led directly to me doing an environmental Master’s degree. The article I’d actually already written for today was about wildlife loss in the Atlantic).
- “Fish skin is used as a source of gelatine as well as leather in making clothing, shoes, handbags, wallets, belts and other items. Larger fish are more suited to leather production owing to the size of the skins. Common sources of leather include shark […]. Shark cartilage is used in many pharmaceutical preparations and reduced in powder, creams and capsules, as are other parts of sharks, e.g. ovaries, brain, skin and stomach … Several splits by more product forms for several species have also been introduced, in particular for meat and fillets, as well as the introduction of shark fins in cured form.[…] UN – State of World Fisheries 2010.
- Some 73 million sharks are killed by man every year, mainly for their fins. That averages out to well over six million per month, more than one and a half million per week, over 217,000 per day, upwards of 9,000 per hour, and around 150 per minute. In fact, in the 40 hours and 41 minutes it took Palfrey to break the world record for longest unassisted oceanic swim, over 366,000 sharks were killed somewhere in the world. – From the link above.
- If I was in a situation where something the choice was between a swim and an endangered animal, I’d prefer to have my swim abandoned that have that endangered creature killed for my swim. But if a crew told me they killed a shark for my safety, I’d ABSOLUTELY believe and trust them. Those two things are completely compatible.
- The fundamental question being asked by many is whether any swim is worth such a price. For this particular swim, I think we still need more clarity, and certainly not a rush to judgement.
- I ask you this: if such swim are to be abandoned, then why is all the other mass- scale killing allowed? Personally, I have long been in favour of Marine Protection Zones (Reservations) rather than just a quota system. Quota systems, which are the primary method of marine protection are open to widespread corruption and lobbying and local political pressure. And they generally don’t work. The world has very few Marine Reservations. Marine biologists and environmentalists believe Marine Reservations (and outright bans) are the best way to protect species and habitats. If the Caymans were a protection zone or marine reservation, with NO marine traffic, then such swims should be abandoned. But let’s see how many will stand up for that. What, why we can’t go there? But how many creature are killed unknowing by propellers and dumped rubbish from boats and pollution? It’s hypocrisy to attack the swimmer and crew in ignorance while the rest of the world does its best to destroy everything.
- I consider myself an aquatic creature. I have as much right to swim as any other creature. Being a thinking creature also, I seek for balance and understanding and an awareness of the world around me. I constantly fail.
- I’m also an environmentalist. But environmentalism has to exist in a real, contested world.