Diana Nyad: Sharks need our help
July 28th, 2011
07:15 AM ET

Diana Nyad: Sharks need our help

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.

We are humbly entering their world, their territory. Yes, let’s not be naïve. There is reason to take intelligent precautions for my safety. But it is imperative to me and every member of my team that those precautions be in the hands of a highly expert, experienced team of four divers who are versed for many years now in using cutting edge, nonlethal technology to deter sharks.

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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soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Tuppy Dougherty

    it is beyond me how anyone who has taken his or her time to read Diana Nyad's blog, emails, quotes etc. regarding this effort could believe ANYTHING else but that because of her enormous love and respect for the Natural in ever way, she will proceed through this adventure in ways that only benefit everyone and everything touched in any way. See now we are already more aware of the plight if the shark. Godspeed, Diana. We in Louisiana WILL YOU to a TRIUMPHANT FINISH!

    July 28, 2011 at 09:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. R

    She can think what she wants. I feel she's preaching. And "asking" a shark anything isn't getting a laugh out of me.

    July 28, 2011 at 09:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. MakoMan

    @R She may be preaching, but if that's what it takes, then that's what it takes. 1/3 of shark species are endangered, some having been nearly wiped out–their populations down by 90% or more.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hook

      Fake numbers, no data.

      July 29, 2011 at 07:56 | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Hook, Google the Coral Reef Alliance. You'll learn a great deal about sharks, the marine ecosystem and ocean.

      July 29, 2011 at 15:13 | Report abuse |
    • beadlesaz

      Hook: Ignorance can be fixed. How about working on yours. Don't make useless statements like "fake numbers, no data." Research the topic and then share the facts that you've found – along with citations.

      July 31, 2011 at 15:06 | Report abuse |
  4. mary

    she loves and respects nature. Not like the people who want to wipe out animals because it's fun. Sharks are part of this life we live. Lets give some respect as the forefathers did and still do.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • R C Johnston

      Just goes to show how badly humans suck.

      July 28, 2011 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
  5. JT

    I'm not entirely sure of the purpose man-eating sharks serve the environment. I'm not advocating the extermination of any species, but I'm not certain that it would cause irrevocable harm to the rest of the environment.

    People like to say things about eradicating mosquitos – but there are several species that depend on them for food. I'm not aware of any species that depend on Great Whites, Bull Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Oceanic White Tips, and other man-eaters. There are probably some instances where they help keep certain fish populations viable by eating their predators, but in other instances they're eating the same fish we're after.

    I think it's great that they're taking measures to not harm sharks, but at the same time isn't it pretty damning when you need a team of four world reknown experts to do so? They are out to eat us. If they weren't, she wouldn't be traveling with this type of escort.

    July 28, 2011 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • scientist

      perhaps you should do a bit of research on the essential role of sharks in our ocean ecosystems before you admit your ignorance in public! and stop calling the "maneaters". they are simply top predators, who generally ignore humans who invade their environment. but when we overfish the oceans and remove their preferred prey, they may once in a while go after people to stay alive.

      July 28, 2011 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
    • Krista

      You need to educate yourself on the role of predators in a healthy eco-system.

      July 28, 2011 at 12:01 | Report abuse |
    • another scientist

      JT, one excellent example of shark importance is in the Chesappeake Bay. Depletion of large sharks in the Atlantic ocean and outer Chesappeake has led to an explosion of cownose rays, which are in turn, decimating the oyster and other shellfish populations. Sharks normally eat a lot of cownose rays and keep their numbers in balance and now that there are very few sharks, rays are eating every shellfish in sight. Everything is linked in nature and FYI, if all Malaria-bearing mosquitoes were wiped out along with Malaria, regions of Africa and India would experience a massive population explosion since people there also don't practice birth control. Then everyone would starve and wars would intensify over diminishing resources. Balance is key. Remember that.

      July 28, 2011 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
    • Cassie

      You are really DUMB!

      July 28, 2011 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
    • C K Blenheim

      JT – They are NOT "out to eat us" as you so eloquently pointed out. If you are capable of being anything more than egocentric, please try to remember that we are in the shark's natural environment. We are occupying its natural space. How would you react if an intruder came inside your home? I really don't want to place you under the same category as posters "mmmsharks" and "Renee" below who both need to be strelized to prevent them from passing on the idiot gene.

      July 28, 2011 at 18:07 | Report abuse |
    • C K Blenheim

      Sorry JT – Sent the above post by accident before finishing my thought. So I was saying, I really don't want to place you under the same category as posters "mmmsharks" and "Renee" below who both need to be STERILIZED to prevent them from passing on the idiot gene. So please think before you post comments like you just did.

      July 28, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse |
  6. truefax

    I have the solution, it's complex, and it's expensive but it will work. Give the sharks lasers then they will be so totally awsome no one will mess with them, until then they're just another fish to put in the pot.

    July 28, 2011 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. guest

    Diana, i applaud you and thank you for taking the time to let us know your plan!! you are showing yourself to be a great person in addition to being a great athlete and role model. good luck.

    July 28, 2011 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. mmmsharks

    Sharks do need our help, in making them into delicious soup!

    July 28, 2011 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • another scientist

      Go back under your bridge, troll.

      July 28, 2011 at 13:00 | Report abuse |
    • Debbie338

      Will you please explain to me what exactly people like you get out of saying dumb crap like that? Do you understand it makes you look like you have the intellect of a ten-year-old? Do you think you're funny?

      July 28, 2011 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
    • C K Blenheim

      You apparently ascribe to the ancient Chinese myth that eating sharks will cure you of your impotence? Why else would you make such a moronic statement? I suppose we should all breathe a collective sigh of relief that you are unable to "get it up" in order to reproduce.

      July 28, 2011 at 18:23 | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Thanks for outing mmmsharks as impotent, CK, I needed the laugh today.

      July 29, 2011 at 15:16 | Report abuse |
  9. Emerald Dove

    thank you diana for caring about the sharks,very much appreciated,especially after the this penny palfrey incident!

    July 28, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. R

    Why doesn't she ask for donations to have her NOT do this?

    July 28, 2011 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Rick McDaniel

    The entire planet needs our help, but no one in governments, cares. That costs money, and all government cares about is business, making money, to generate tax dollars.

    July 28, 2011 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Renee

    WHO CARES ABOUT THE SHARKS!! I'll bet half of you planet worshipers think it's ok to murder a baby that is alive in the womb but would risk your life for a stupid fish. Your logic is against humanity!!

    July 28, 2011 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • R C Johnston

      'll bet half of you planet worshipers think it's ok to murder a baby that is alive in the womb... I bet you like to eat eggs. Isn't that abortion, I think it is, just not a human abortion.

      July 28, 2011 at 15:52 | Report abuse |
    • C K Blenheim

      1. Worshipers is actually spelled worshippers with two p's.
      2. You should worship the planet as well. Without the planet and its resources including the supposed "stupid fish", you would be unable to eat it in order to survive and pass on your more than stellar genes. (Sarcasm here.)
      3. "Your logic is against humanity." Actually, scientists and other planet "worshipers" are pro – humanity. Our logic is that without a balanced ecosystem, the whole system collapses. (This system includes people who might be exposed to diseased fish.) Sharks which are top predators of our oceans exist for a reason. They keep our oceans free of disease by consuming old or dying fish. (So as you can see, our logic is NOT against humanity. Does this make sense? I can rephrase if you are unable to comprehend upon your fourth reading. Let me know!)
      4. I'm not sure you are capable of comprehending anything I wrote here because you evidently have the IQ of a dung beetle larvae. I take that back. Being a planet "worshiper", I don't want to offend the larvae.

      July 28, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Here's some real logic for you, Renee: human beings now outnumber rats on the planet. Yes, that's right, there are more of us living, breathing, using up resources and polluting the planet than there are RATS. We outnumber VERMIN!

      It's not your business what another woman does about what's in her own womb. Your womb is your business, too. I don't want to know what you do about your own choices, but mind your own business, please. This is a manufactured crisis taking your mind off the real ones. Pay attention to the men behind the curtain. Your life depends on it.

      July 29, 2011 at 15:21 | Report abuse |
    • beadlesaz

      Renee – you are a real piece of work.

      July 31, 2011 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
  13. Ted

    I think sharks are great and have no problem with laws protecting them.I fish very often on the Atlantic coast and hook sharks a lot.I use NON stainless circle hooks and cut the line as close to the hook as I can without removing the shark from the water.I really enjoy the fight a 6 or 8 foot shark gives but it would senscless to harm the shark or kill it.The hook in the corner of it's mouth will not keep it from feeding.Sharks are a predatory fish and when we enter their enviroment we can expect them to act like predators.

    July 28, 2011 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Brad

    You really *enjoy* "the fight a 6 or 8 foot shark gives"?! How callous. I'll wager the shark does not enjoy AT ALL being hooked, regardless of whether or not the hook keeps them from feeding later on. I'll give you credit for refraining from removing the shark from the water, but to say you "enjoy the fight" is cruel.

    July 28, 2011 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. WOBH

    Jeeze.... some people would crap all over Mother Theresa if given the chance.

    July 28, 2011 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Dunester

    She's a class act!

    "Man eating" is really seal eating, sea lion eating, smaller marine mammal eating... sharks don't say HEY HUMAN – CHOW DOWN. They see food ... in the water.

    Too bad this article didn't come out last week when Martha's Vineyard had their *horrific* monster shark "tournament". Kill sharks for trophy/sport. Any slaughter for trophy/sport is abhorable and must be banned. They could learn a few things from Diana Nyad.

    July 28, 2011 at 23:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Ted

    Every recreatioal fisherman fishes for ONE reason. To test their skills and strength against the fish.If this offends someone that tough cookies.Loud music loud motorcycles,rude people and dope heads offend me.But i still encounter it every day.Iam less cruel to sharks than many offended people are to their children.

    July 29, 2011 at 07:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Carole Wickham

    Very inspired by your courage, tenacity, strength of body, mind, & spirit to attempt your xtreme dream. Reading this I am also encouraged by your compassion & recognition that you are entering their space, that of all marine life which is sacred & necessary to the survival of our oceans! Go Diana! You will be swimming on the fins of many a prayer holding you up, encouraging you forward!

    July 29, 2011 at 12:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Bonita

    Boycot the Asian delicacies. What are the sensible Westerners doing? People obsessed with beauty, health, or food can literally destroy the planet.

    July 31, 2011 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Bonita

    Ban seafood until the sea recovers itself from mankind's abuse.

    July 31, 2011 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Dr. Nar

    My dad is on his way to Cuba with Diana as I write this. He is part of her shark safety team and some of the comments made here by the likes of renee, mmmsharks, jt, and hook are so beyond ignorant I don't even know where to beginning. I applaud Diana for taking the extra step and my thoughts and prayers are with her and the team for a success and a safe return.

    August 6, 2011 at 07:44 | Report abuse | Reply

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