An open-water swimmer is taking on a mission in shark-infested South-African waters to raise funds for marine life rescues.
Jane Hardy, a member of the Alnwick sea-swimmers group and a seasoned open-water swimmer, is taking part in the Cadiz Freedom Swim from Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, to Big Bay, Bloubergstrand, on the South African mainland.
And the challenge, on Saturday, April 11, will take the 48-year-old, from Littlemill near Rennington, through water which is home to apex predators including great white sharks, in aid of British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDLMR).
Jane, a mum-of-four, qualified as a marine mammal medic for BDMLR a few years ago and helps to refloat beached porpoises, dolphins and whales and assists with the rehab of sick and injured seal pups along the north Northumberland coast, and wanted to raise money for the charity.
She has taken part in open-water swimming events in the past and having lived in South Africa, is returning for a holiday this year, and decided to take on the swim while there.
Jane said: “I am nervous of the sharks but I’m statistically more likely to get hit by a bus than eaten by a shark. Hollywood movies, like Jaws, have given sharks bad press.
“They don’t come actively hunting humans, they usually mistake surfers for seals (their diet). If they do take a bite, it’s by accident and they spit us out because we don’t taste salty and fishy like seals do.”
But to reduce her chances of attack, Jane is having a special wetsuit made to camouflage her against the sharks.
She added: “I am knowingly putting myself in waters where I know apex predators live.
“I am entering their territory so if I am unfortunate I absolutely don’t want a manhunt to kill the sharks.
“Unless they exit the water and pick me off while sunbathing, I think we should leave them be. They are an important part of the ecosystem. Too many of them are fished and I believe they receive too much bad press.”
cadiz freedom swim
The swim will take Jane 7.5km from Robben Island to mainland South Africa in 12-degree water.
A special wetsuit, which will help camouflage Jane from sharks, is being designed by Deano Jackson from HUUB, who manufactured wetsuits for triathletes the Brownlee brothers.
Jane is aiming to raise £1,000. Sponsor her at www.justgiving.com/Jane-Hardy1/