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Posted by Lauren Smith on

Sponsored Swim 14th October 2010

When i was about 10 years old i used to play this game when i was in the swimming pool, you know those vents where the heated water comes out of around the sides of the pool? Well i used to imagine that Great White Sharks would break through these vents and chase me around the pool – very James Bond i suppose, but it definately helped me to win some races using that psychology!

Me with the Shark Week Poster
I was reflecting on this when i was 3 hours into my (hopefully) 8 hour swim yesterday and thinking that although my motives had changed, 17 years down the line i am still relating sharks to swimming pools.
This swim was born out of one of my usual enthusiastic and optimistic (not to mention outlandish) statements; that i would do an 8 hour swim to raise awarness for European Shark Week, whose main push for 2010 is to strengthen the finning ban, and to raise money for a local Scottish shark charity to go towards tagging studies (Scottish Shark Tagging Program), and so after 3 weeks of not particularly serious training squeezed around work i jumped in!
I have to say i found the mental side of things more of a challenge than the physical – yes after 3 hours i was cold and yes after 6 hours i thought my arms were going to pop out of my shoulder sockets but that can be pushed through a lot easier than the “oh wow i’ve still got 6 hours to go…” or the “half an hour must have gone by… what? only 10 minutes?! that clock can’t be right?!!” , of course i had initially said i would aim for 8 hours but my collapse before. However for those of you who know me should know by now that it would be 8 hours or nothing! I did it, i swam for 8 hours, i covered 12 miles and i burnt over 4000 calories. Its true i enjoyed the physical challenge as much as i enjoyed raising awareness and collecting money for the European Shark Week and the SSTP!
I think i have raised close to £400 although will post an update to this once everything has been collected and totalled up! I will also post up my training and nutrition schedule for those of you who are interested…

Fuel and European Shark Week Badges on my “wave mat” at home!

I hope i have made a small bit of difference by doing the swim, on Wednesday night i watched SharkWater for the umpteenth time to fuel my mind and make me go for it on the swim even more so, shark finning is a horrendous practice and utterly wasteful, sharks are caught, hauled up on board the fishing vessels their fins are sliced off and then their bodies are thrown back overboard leaving the shark to either drown or bleed to death, its a huge problem to overcome on so many different levels from the people who go out and actually fin the sharks, to the consumers of the (chicken/pork flavoured) “shark fin” soup, to the shark finning mafia driving the finning operations. But basic laws are in place, these need to be strengthened, tightened and policed to close loop holes and rid this practice in its entirety.
Its a large undertaking but it’s no good just reflecting on how awfull a situation is, stand up, take action, be heard and change things for the better!
Well thats my opinion anyway……
Posted by Lauren Smith on

Sabbatical April 2010 Introductory Info

The following information and subsequent blogs were originally featured on:

Dr Lauren E. Smith is a marine biologist who specialises in shark research; she is a keen surfer, freediver and SCUBA diver and loves nothing more than to combine these activities with her passion for sharks.

Lauren says:
Sharks have evolved for over 400 million years, surviving some of the earth’s greatest mass extinctions. They are superbly adapted to their environment: apex predators, intelligent with unique immune systems and yet for all this perfection they are vulnerable particularly to the actions of man.

Therefore I believe that the key way to save these animals is through education; through informed understanding, misrepresentation and fears can be replaced with appreciation, respect and compassion.

It is for these reasons that I have taken a 3 month sabbatical from my current research position based in the North East of Scotland in the UK, and am heading off to the Philippines for as many shark based activities as possible!

The primary reason for me choosing the Philippines is because it is home to a well established shark research laboratory, with an excellent reputation the – Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project (TSRCP), based on Malapascua Island, off the North East tip of Cebu, where I will be working for 2 months. The TSRCP’s mission statement is as follows:
“To promote and disseminate shark research, education and conservation to a broad local, regional and international public and scientific outreach”.
A statement that I fully endorse and follow when conducting my own shark research.

Please visit the TSRCP page on this site as well as the official website ( for further information.

During my stay in the Philippines I will also be going to visit the whale sharks that descend on the waters of Donsol, located at the Southern tip of Luzon Island for December to May each year. Here I will be getting in the water with the whale sharks and meeting with employees of Donsol EcoTour ( to find out more about the whale sharks, with a view to developing future research possibilities.

During the first week of June I will be flying to the Republic of Palau, 500 miles east of the Philippines for a 2-week stay. Palau is made up of over 300 volcanic and coral islands, it attracted a lot of media attention in September of last year when it effectively created the worlds first ‘shark sanctuary’ after banning all commercial shark fishing in it’s waters. Here I will be SCUBA diving and freediving and hopefully in doing so observing yet more shark’s in their natural environment.