July 28th, 2011
07:15 AM ET
Editor's Note: Recent news reports have raised the issue of sharks and how Diana Nyad and her team will react if sharks come near as she attempts to swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida. CNN , following Nyad's preparations for over a year, asked her about her shark plan and how she intended to deal with predators she might encounter in her oceanic journey. Here is Nyad's response:
Sharks have made news in recent weeks, from attacks near U.S. beaches to how they were treated by the team of a fellow ocean swimmer. There were some reports - denied by those involved - that sharks were harmed when Penny Palfrey swam in the Caymans.
I just want to be crystal clear about how my team will handle sharks on our upcoming attempt to make history in swimming the 103 miles from Cuba to Florida: No shark will be harmed at any time during our event.
Sharks worldwide are in crisis.
Tens of millions of them are killed each year just for their fins, often in a disturbing, cruel manner. At this rate, we will lose our ocean sharks within the next decade.
Agreed, our team has worked hard toward this world record. But it is of paramount importance to us that we achieve the dream in perfect harmony with all the creatures of the sea we encounter . In some regard, I am humbly asking the sharks of this particular ocean to allow me to skim across the surface of their home for about three days. I am duly respectful of them, their habits and their habitat, as is every individual on the Xtreme Dream Team.
These divers dedicate their lives to raising awareness for sharks and persuading nations around the world to ban shark finning.
My dive team will first of all surround me with kayaks carrying electronic Shark Shields about 3 feet under the water. This electronic current does not bother me and does not injure sharks but does serve to annoy them.
These animals are curious. They might well come near me to explore what I’m all about. They most often back away as they sense the field. Picture me effectively wrapped in a 30-foot bubble of electronic pulses that repel sharks.
As a second tier of protection, these four renowned shark specialists will take shifts, in the water and out, to patrol possible shark activity close to me.
Should a shark be sighted, this team will deter the shark without in any way harming or endangering the animal.
I have 100% confidence that I will come across with great safety and that, should shark encounters occur near me, my team members will act with their proven professionalism to protect me and simultaneously respect these majestic animals.
Sharks are an incendiary topic. The producers of "Jaws" tapped into the fear many humans harbor around sharks.
I have little control over the news media's temptation to sensationalize, but I do have control over our team’s attitude toward these animals and our procedures when it comes to them. This is precisely why I have turned to a team of experts whose careers are defined by a commitment to sharks.
Again, let me state as clearly and as loudly as I possibly can: We will not destroy any shark on our way from Cuba to Florida. Our attitude is that these are beautiful, necessary animals. We need them. The oceans need them.
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