Swim4Survival – Press Release
ONE MAN, ONE SWIM, ONE HUNDRED TIMES
Endurance Sport-obsessed Howard Warrington will soon become the 4th person in the world to swim from Blouberg to Robben Island one hundred times – and if that isn’t enough of an accomplishment, he’s doing it for animals! Having witnessed first-hand the extent of the pollution far from our shores, Howard has made it his mission to act for animals whose habitats and lives are threatened by human action / inaction.
As Howard (who swims only in a Speedo) puts it “When I get into the freezing water, I know I’ll only be in pain for the first 10 strokes, animals are enduring so much more for so much longer and that’s what keeps me going”! He’s right, there’s no quick death for animals entangled in any kind of debris that humans should have responsibly disposed of. Our wildlife team have seen first-hand how all animals, not just marine life and sea birds suffer prolonged suffering from entanglement in anything from fishing lines and hooks to plastic packaging. “We’ve treated land birds like an Egyptian Goose with gut so tightly wound around her legs that it was painfully restricting blood flow to her extremities and a Hadeda in the exact same predicament. Entanglement is common during nesting season when birds seek out material to build and line their nests” says Wildlife Inspector Jon Friedman. “Marine mammals like Cape Fur Seals often get hooked on fishing hooks or entangled in packing tape and fishing line which over time causes deep strangulating wounds. We’ve also treated a terrapin that swallowed a fishing line hook and all but it sadly died as a result of its injuries” says Jon.
Many wild animals ingest plastic and other waste with devastating consequences. They don’t have the ability to discern between a potentially harmful substance and food. To them, if it looks like food, smells like food or behaves like food – it’s food! In the ocean, filter-feeding animals can ingest plastic accidently while sunfish or turtles can mistake plastic bags for a jellyfish meal. Scavengers like seagulls regularly consume plastic which previously held human food. They are unable to digest plastic which means it remains in their gut, makes them feel full and they essentially starve to death. And all of this suffering can be prevented by the responsible use of plastics and the responsible disposal of waste.
Do you know how long litter takes to break down in the ocean?
Cigarette butts: 1-5 years
Plastic bags: 10-20 years
Glass bottles: 1,000,000 years
Aluminium cans: 80 years
Plastic bottles: 450 years
Fine fishing nets: 600 years
The statistics say:
• 1,000,000 seabirds are killed by marine litter every year.
• In excess of 260 animal species have become entangled in or ingested fishing lines, nets, ropes and other discarded equipment.
• 1,000,000 turtles, dolphins, whales and seals are killed by plastic / marine litter annually.
• 6,000,000 metric tons of debris enters the ocean every year, weighing about the same as 1,000,000 elephants.
This is why Howard is embarking on his #swim4survival challenge. Covering the 7.4km distance can take anything from just under 2 hours to just over 4, depending on swell and currents. That’s a long time to stay in water that averages 12 degrees Celsius on a good day.
It’s not going to be easy but you can help make it worth it!
It costs us on average of R450 to rescue and rehabilitate just one wild animal and our wildlife department operates at a cost of almost at a million annually.
All donations are highly appreciated but the first 25 supporters who donate R450 or more will receive our first ever LIMITED edition SPCA swim4survival branded sports towel and swim cap kit.
Remember to do your part towards keeping our ocean healthy:
• Eat Sustainable Seafood
Overfishing is a global problem, and many common fishing and farming methods result in major habitat damage or large amounts of bycatch. Use a seafood guide when ordering or purchasing to help make sustainable seafood choices.
• Reduce Your Plastic Use
50-80% of marine debris is plastic. It breaks down into smaller pieces, but never goes away. Marine animals often mistake it for food, and can end up choking or starving to death. Reduce plastic pollution by using reusable bags, cups, and tableware instead. You can make a difference by using less plastic and recycling the plastic you do use.
• Keep Beaches and Waterways Clean
All waterways lead to the ocean. Marine debris usually originates on land. Help out by joining beach or waterway clean-ups, and never litter. Make sure to pick up after your pet and be a responsible pet owner.
• Dispose of waste in an environmentally safe way
Harmful waste can end up the ocean when not properly disposed of, hurting the health of the ocean. Recycle and reuse whenever possible, and dispose of chemicals properly – never pour them down the drain or in the toilet.
• Be Considerate of Marine Life
Marine habitats are yours to enjoy through tide pooling, diving, surfing and other activities. However, don’t touch corals, or remove any animals from their habitats. Never feed wild animals and be aware of laws protecting animals from harassment. Don’t disturb nesting grounds and be aware of your surroundings wherever you walk or swim.