Pioneer Swimmer Lewis Pugh is taking to the ice again, to do five swims further south than any human has swum before.
During the month of February 2015, the United Nations Patron of the Oceans will undertake five record-breaking swims in freezing Antarctic waters to help save the Ross Sea from irreversible damage.
The five swims will form the most challenging and dangerous swimming effort ever undertaken by man. With no insulation other than a Speedo swimming costume, Lewis will break the world record for the most southerly swim in three of his five swims. As well as the obvious dangers of subjecting his body to the stresses of sub-zero water, Lewis will be swimming in seas patrolled by killer whales and leopard seals.
Why these five swims, and why now?
For one urgent reason: To gain global support for the Ross Sea to become an MPA (Marine Protected Area) that would limit human interference.
The Ross Sea is one of the most pristine marine ecosystems on the planet, and home to many species found nowhere else on earth. The historical records trapped in its ice-shelf tell the story of the evolution of our planet. As a result, the area is of huge significance to marine biologists and conservation groups who are determined to protect and learn from this unique stretch of ocean. But like all of our seas, it faces the threats of climate change and overfishing.
The proposed Ross Sea MPA is 1.34 million km2 – bigger than the UK, Germany and France put together – and will be the biggest protected area in the world, on land or in the sea.
The organisation responsible for creating MPAs in the region is the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). But for the past four years, their motion to establish an MPA in the Ross Sea has been held up by lack of consensus. CCAMLR is currently chaired by Russia. Which is why Lewis will be encouraging Russia to lead the world in conserving the Ross Sea.
“Over the past 30 years I’ve seen the devastating impacts of overfishing and climate change on our oceans,” Lewis says. “If we allow the Ross Sea to go the same way, its unique riches may be lost forever. My hope is that these symbolic swims will bring the beauty and wonder of Antarctica into the hearts and homes of people around the world so they will urge their governments to protect this unique ecosystem, which is truly a polar Garden of Eden.”
Lewis is a leading figure in efforts to protect the world’s oceans.
He is the only person to have completed a long distance swim in every ocean of the world. Over a period of 27 years, he has pioneered swims in the most hostile waters on earth including the Antarctic, the North Pole and the Himalayas, and developed an understanding of the beauty and fragility of life and its many eco-systems.
Last year Lewis became the first man to swim all the ancient Seven Seas, from the Mediterranean to the Arabian, to highlight the urgent need for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This month he's heading back to the Antarctic, to undertake five swims in sub-zero temperatures at strategic points to support the call for the world's biggest, and arguably most critical, Marine Protected Area.
In 2013, the United Nations appointed him Patron of the Oceans.
Lewis is an accomplished public speaker. In 2014, he addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos and his leadership address at the BIF Conference was voted one of the “7 Most Inspiring Speeches on the Web”.
In 2010 the World Economic Forum named him a Young Global Leader and in 2013 he was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
For more information visit Lewis Pugh website