On 25th August in Rass Al Hadd, Oman, renowned endurance swimmer and United Nation’s Environment Programme (UNEP)’s Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh, completed his sixth swim for his Seven Seas Campaign to put Marine Protected Areas on the global agenda.
On the penultimate leg of the campaign, Lewis swam 10km off the coast of Rass Al Hadd to raise awareness of the decline in coral reefs through severe bleaching. It took him three hours and 15 minutes in what he described as: “Literally one of the highlights of my life.”
Pugh continued: “In 27 years of swimming I have never seen so many turtles – over 300 Green Turtles. In some places the whole sea bed was covered in turtles. At the start of the swim there were turtles laying eggs. There were little turtles hatching and making their way into the sea. There were birds diving down and grabbing them. Fish darting in and out. And local artisan fisherman catching fish for their families.”
Lewis’s campaign will see him become the first person to undertake a long distance swim in each of the Seven Seas: the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Aegean, Black, Red, Arabian and North Sea. He arrives in the UK to make his seventh swim in the North Sea later this week.
These seas are amongst the most polluted and overfished in the world and Lewis Pugh’s campaign, Seven Swims in the Seven Seas for 1 Reason, will highlight the need for urgent action.
Spanning from East Africa to West India, this sea is home to an impressive range of beautiful, yet vulnerable, species and habitats.
The diverse and productive coral reefs of this sea have suffered severe coral bleaching – up to 80% in some areas – from global warming. This is set to intensify as sea temperatures rise with climate change. It’s a bleak outlook for coral reef habitats, and urgent action is needed to reduce climate change at a global level, combined with protection at the local level.
Well-managed MPAs can reduce stressors and may improve the ability of corals to withstand and recover from the temperature spikes that cause coral bleaching episodes.
Lewis’s swim in the Arabian Sea raises the call to action to protect and restore coral reefs, so that this delicate habitat might survive.
Follow Lewis’s progress via his website, www.lewispugh.com Twitter @LewisPugh #7Swims and Facebook – Lewis Pugh.
For further information, interviews and pictures throughout Lewis’s journey please contact Louise Plank or Victoria Hartley-Wilson at Plank PR, +44(0)20 8995 3936.
Pic: (c) Kelvin Trautman
SEVEN SWIMS IN THE SEVEN SEAS FOR 1 REASON
The United Nations is urging all nations to set aside at least 10% of the world’s oceans as effective and well-managed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by 2020.
“The establishment of Marine Protected Areas is a critical component of global efforts to reverse the degradation of our oceans,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner. “UNEP applauds Lewis Pugh’s latest expedition, which will spotlight the importance of MPAs and increase global attention to the plight of the world’s oceans.”
“Land-based pollution, poorly managed coastal development, overfishing and climate change are all major threats which can be reduced if governments work together and set ambitious targets. Over the last 40 years, the UNEP Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans have actively supported member states in such efforts, including in the creation and management of Marine Protected Areas,” he added.
Approximately 13% of the world’s land lies in protected areas, but less than 3% of the oceans are protected, and much of that receives little protection in practice.
Notes to Editors
Lewis Pugh is a leading figure in efforts to protect the world’s oceans. Over a period of 27 years, he has pioneered swims in the most hostile waters on earth. In 2007 his swim across an open patch of sea at the North Pole to highlight the melting of the Arctic sea ice was global news, as was his 2010 swim across a newly formed glacial lake on Mount Everest which drew significant attention to the impact of climate change in the Himalayas.
Dates and locations for all swims are as follows:
7 Swims in the 7 Seas for 1 Reason is being supported by The Living Oceans Foundation, SEACOM and The Oak Foundation.