Every year approximately 100 million sharks are killed for their fins. Sharks are brought up by long line fishing and their fins are then sliced off. The still alive shark is then discarded over board to sink to the bottom of the ocean where it will either drown, or be eaten alive. The fins are then sold at high prices for either shark fin soup (a fin is tasteless) or for supplements. Due to the increase in demand for both these goods, sharks are rapidly decreasing worldwide and facing extinction.
Diving is a way of life on the island of Koh Tao, as the Gulf of Thailand offers many wonders of the ocean. One wonder no longer seen in the waters of the islands are sharks. There was a time only a mere six years ago where sharks were seen regularly. I have been diving there extensively over the past two and a half years and have not seen one. . . Now a shark siting is a rare occurrence happening maybe once a year.
This year Dive Tribe Thailand hosted an annual shark release where funds were raised to buy live sharks from fishing markets and release them back onto the reef. This would be taped and followed by videos, educational tools, and shark awareness promotions. Money was raised on Koh Tao and several conservationists traveled to the markets of the mainland, eager to buy the some live sharks and release them to promote awareness. Unfortunately, this is what they were met with at the markets:
Due to not being able to release sharks, Big Blue Conservation set up a fundraiser and shark awareness rally, called "Swim for Sharks." Participants would swim around Koh Nan Yuan (a distance of approximately 3 km) to promote shark awareness. Donations and proceeds from the after party were donated to a shark awareness charity.
I swam in the no mask no fins group and managed to finish second with a time of 1 hour 15 minutes! The event had 50 swimmers and the after party was a huge success, with over a hundred people raising money on the beach. Drink proceeds went to charity and people donated to have their friends heads shaved for charity. Check out the full event in Big Blue's video! Can you spot Swish?