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Free divers do it for sharks

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Lesley Rochat

Trevor Hutton resurfaces off Durbans coast after diving to 70m, breaking the national free-diving record. Pictures Courtesy of Lesley Rochat: www.lesleyrochat.com

When Trevor Hutton broke a national free-diving record on Thursday, it held a greater purpose – to save the sharks.

The two-time former world record free diver and South African Champion free diver achieved exponential success after managing a constant weight free dive to 70m.

The deepest dive achieved in all free-diving competition in South African waters previously was 60m, which Hutton achieved at an Association Internationale pour le Développement de l’Apnée (or AIDA) National Competition in 2007 in Hout Bay.

The dive was planned in April when Hutton pledged to attempt to break the national record in shark-infested waters off Scottburgh to raise awareness about the ocean’s apex predators.

Hutton said he and his team were allowing for an eight-day window from May 31 to June 7 to break national and world free-diving records and would do dives in the pelagic zone, 36km off South Africa’s east coast.

Thursday’s dive took place 15km off the Durban coast, an area frequented by both local and foreign vessels which slaughter our sharks at unsustainable rates, said Hutton.

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UP UP.....AND AWAY: Trevor Hutton resurfaces off Durbans coast yesterday after diving to 70m, breaking the national free-diving record. Pictures Courtesy of Lesley Rochat/www.lesleyrochat.com

Lesley Rochat

Two judges from the international free-diving association (AIDA), were flown in from Cyprus, to ensure the dives were executed according to international protocols.

“After a very tough three weeks of diving to get used to Durban’s open ocean conditions, we were blessed with pristine underwater conditions. But, the surface conditions still made it tough to breathe up for the dive,” said Hutton.

Hutton, who has dived 87m in Greece, said the conditions here made deep diving particularly challenging. “He will be diving again on Saturday and Monday with the aim of exceeding today’s depth,” said Lesley Rochat, founder and executive director, AfriOceans Conservation Alliance which launched the initiative.

The campaign is shining a spotlight on issues such as the continuing senseless killing of sharks by the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, in particular in the marine protected area of the Aliwal Shoal; the illegal catching of the protected white shark by anglers along our coast; foreign fishing vessels, including local vessels ruthlessly decimating our shark populations and finning our sharks, and inadequate compliance.

The project is linked to a shark awareness lobbying campaign that AfriOceans is driving called WANTED! DEAD or ALIVE? - Daily News

kamcilla.pillay@inl.co.za


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