The Big Swim for Sharks

As an ocean swimmer and diver I frequently swim with sharks, although most of the time I don’t see them. This summer I swam from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco, entering the water not far from where a white shark had consumed a seal only a few days before.  To the soundtrack of Jaws provided by an excited seventh grader, the shark consumed the bloody carcass as the event was filmed by phone, much to the excitement of a crowd of tourists. Days later we swimmers stroked our way unharmed through the “Shark Inhabited Waters” of the San Francisco Bay to the City shoreline, past a few curious sea lions, and no doubt over many species of harmless sharks. Swimming in the ocean is healing in many ways, and swimming with wildlife is invigorating and for many of us an important way to connect with nature and the ocean we love.

In the dramatic feature The Big Swim, a young woman loses her mother to breast cancer, and overcomes her own fears of mortality by swimming with sharks. Facing our fears in life is a big challenge, and braving a life threatening disease like breast cancer is more daunting to me than swimming with sharks. Yet to survive, we must confront our fears and find the strength to overcome them. To some, like Rachel in The Big Swim, swimming with sharks might be the silver bullet to solving our troubles.

To share this message, Shark Stewards is excited to partner with Director Kat Green and Wonderfly Films, supporting this film helping raise awareness and support fighting breast cancer and saving sharks.

The Big Swim project also initiates a swim awareness campaign Shark Stewards is undertaking in 2016. We will be swimming for sharks across an island channel in the USA as part of our annual swim for sharks, but also in Asia to support the Malaysian shark campaign.

Although swimming with bull sharks in The Big Swim is thrilling, and diving with white sharks is exhilarating, many species of unheralded sharks and rays are threatened with extinction. That is why we argue that we can co-exist with sharks and we may need them more than we realize. As apex predators, sharks regulate the rest of the marine food web. Removing apex predators causes a trophic cascade, negatively effecting the other predators and fish and invertebrates below it, down to the bottom of the ecosystem. Saving sharks saves the health and balance of marine ecosystems.

Scientists estimate that one third of open ocean sharks are rapidly threatened with extinction.

Sharks get a bad rap. They are not cold blooded killers, but animals fulfilling a powerful role in marine ecosystems and even in our psyche. Swimming for sharks is a way to disprove the myth of shark infested waters and overcome our fears.  A healthy ocean and even healthy humans need top predators like sharks.

Learn more and join the IndieGoGo supporting the film, The Big Swim.

Follow us as we swim for sharks and please help support our shark conservation, education and advocacy work.