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Hella Marine - NZ - 728 - July

Diver highlights conservation cause with shark swim

by Media Services on 6 May 2014
Get Hooked on Conservation .. ©
Dressed only in a bikini, one fearless diver tries to make a point about conservation of sharks by taking a dip with tiger sharks.

South African, Lesley Rochat - known as the 'shark warrior' – says swimming with the deadly creatures, despite being a risky undertaking, is one of her 'greatest joys'.

Her incredible photos show the free diver swimming with Tiger sharks off the coast of South Africa as part of her 'Get Hooked on Conservation: Ban Drumlines' campaign, which she says is just as relevant in Australia.

The campaign aims to stop the culling of sharks using drum lines in Western Australia and South Africa.

A drum line consists of a floating drum with two lines attached to it. One line is joined to an anchor on the sea bed, while the other attached to a large baited shark hook dangling underneath the surface of the water.

In the photo shoot, she is captured coming within touching distance of the creatures, which are considered one of the most deadly species in the world.

She can also be seen swimming alongside Lemon sharks, known for their powerful bite, and Caribbean reef sharks, which can grow up to 10ft long, in other locations.

In January this year, West Australia's controversial catch-and-kill order saw the first shark shot to death after being discovered on a baited drum line off Meelup Beach, near Dunsborough.

Rochat, who founded the firm behind the campaign, AfriOceans, claims that an organisation in South Africa has also been culling sharks using nets and drum lines 'for decades'.


During the photo shoot, the conservationist even posed naked in the ocean while attached to a shark hook - with dozens of the sea creatures swimming around her.

'It was challenging because of the open ocean conditions, plus being naked, having to pose kinda dead hanging from a large hook while holding my breath and hoping the 30 plus sharks were in place,' she wrote. 'Shark culling is not new in South Africa, the KwaZulu Natal Sharks Board have been using shark nets and drumlines for decades.

'Up to 600 sharks plus hundreds of other marine life, including dolphins and whales, are caught by these barbaric killing devices every year.

'The ocean is the domain of sharks and we are merely guests in their world. We have no right just because a few of us get killed by sharks annually to go out and start suffocating and shooting sharks to death.'

Rochat added that she understood that there was a risk she might be bitten by the sharks, but that she was determined to change people's perceptions of the creatures.

www.lesleyrochat.com/blog

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