TANIA DOUTHWAITE has swum with sharks and now she’ll swim for them in a fundraiser protesting against the cruelty of shark finning.
The Freo free diver and spearfisher will joining other volunteers in tackling a leg of a 100km swimathon through chilly water off South Beach on Sunday July 28.
They hope to raise $2000 for Project Aware’s End Shark Finning campaign.
“The idea behind shark finning is you cut off the dorsal and pectoral fins and dispose of the rest,” Ms Douthwaite says. About 96 per cent of the shark gets wasted and environmental groups claim whole species are at risk.
The mutilated sharks often survive the initial cut, but unable to move properly they slowly suffocate or get eaten by predators.
The resulting fins end up in soup commonly associated with Chinese cuisine. The Australian Anti Shark Finning Alliance keeps a “wall of shame” of WA restaurants that serve the dish, and all are Chinese.
Ms Douthwaite says some Chinese oppose the practice, and she was encouraged to find her local Chinese grocer refuses to sell the product.
She grew up in England where rocky beaches and cold weather keep the bathers at bay, so she’d hardly had an ocean dip until a few years ago when her partner took her to Coral Bay. Now she’s been swimming with sharks and had a three-metre tiger brush within arm’s reach of her off Exmouth. They’re now her favourite animal, along with pelagic fish who live near the surface.
by DAVID BELL