In just over a month, Gene Girardeau will be doing something that has never been attempted before, she will begin a open water swim of forty three kilometres between the tropical islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, which is seven kilometres longer than the English Channel. Gene who is a honorary Master Divers member will be attempting this challenge all in the name of saving sharks. In association with Project Aware’s Finathon and Master Divers Gene will be trying to raise as much money and awareness as possible, but with a target of 3000 dollars (around £1800) for Project Aware to help fight against Shark finning and ensuring the protection of endangered sharks and improving the policies that protect them.
A lover of open water swimming, the longest Gene has swum is twenty three kilometres which is less than half the distance of this epic swim. This particular swim will take around 16 hours starting at 2am (on the calmest day within a three week window) meaning that the first part of her swim will be in complete darkness. In a radio interview Gene said that this was because she’d prefer to swim in the dark at the beginning so that the mental pressure of swimming in the dark doesn’t bear down on her in her last hours of the challenge when she’ll already be physically weary and mentally fatigued. She will not be allowed to properly rest, touch a boat, floating device or another person during the swim, she will only pause for short two minute intervals every thirty mins to drink a combination of coconut water, endurance gels and eat protein bars. As much as she loves swimming, Gene is a PADI Dive Master and is passionate about sharks and their plight against shark finning, by-catch and culling in fear. She is hoping to raise a large sum of money to aid the fantastic work carried out by project aware in the fight to save sharks. If you care about sharks too and want to support and motivate Gene on her swim please visit here to donate.
Shark Finning is the act of catching a shark, indiscriminately of size and maturity and slicing off its fin and throwing it’s body back into the ocean to die a painful and sometimes very slow death. 90% of the shark is effectively wasted, not to mention that the shark population over a range of species has declined by as much as 80-95% over a short period, due to the increased value and popularity of dishes such as ‘Shark Fin Soup’ – An Asian delicacy that holds status among the wealthy despite the shark content adding nothing to the soup but texture as it is often flavoured with chicken. Many consumers are not aware of the origins of their food due to people nowadays being very removed from where our food comes from which is why charities like Project Aware are hoping to spread awareness of this and help bring an end to it. You can read more about Shark Finning and Finathon here.