Update (7/26/11 at 10:07pm): I blew this story. Initial reports indicated that Penny Palfrey's support team killed three sharks while she made her record-breaking trip between Little Cayman and Grand Cayman. Those reports are FALSE, Penny's team didn't kill any sharks-- three were hooked and towed away but were released without harm after being moved a safe distance from Penny.
According to The Daily News of Open Water Swimming
, Penny Palfrey's man in charge of security may have used a poor choice in words which was misinterpreted by some news outlets, and so the bad buzz began. "The findings were that The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism contacted the individual named in the original report, Charles Ebanks, who confirmed that he did not kill any sharks during the historic Bridging swim and states that reports to the contrary are inaccurate. He stated that he 'hooked the sharks and lead them away', he further added, 'I was there, I did not kill any sharks. They are assuming I did something which is not true and you can quote me on this.' Charles stated that the boat captain from the boat asked him what he did with the sharks and he replied, 'I got rid of them.' He said he thinks this could have been taken to mean that they were killed.
I apologize to Penny Palfrey and her team for getting this one wrong. I'm sorry.
My incorrect story follows in
Last month 48 year old swimmer Penny Palfrey spend nearly 41 hours in the water swimming 67 miles between Little Cayman and Grand Cayman, setting a world record for a solo unassisted ocean swim. In the process her team killed three sharks; two of them were endangered Oceanic whitetips. Her support team carried a shark repellent that used electrical pulses to keep sharks away but they still felt the need to kill three out of the four sharks they saw on the trip. The way they did was fairly brutal- they lured them away with fish, hooked them with a hook and line, and then chopped them to death with a machete.
Oceanic Whitetip sharks are critically endangered in parts of the Atlantic ocean and has seen its numbers drop as high as 99% due to sport and commercial fishing. And now, the support crew for a record driven swimmer.
It's shameful and it sullies Penny's record. Any neanderthal can bully their way through nature, killing anything that proves inconvenient. Where is the honor in that? Where is the honor of pillaging through the ocean in pursuit of something as ultimately ethereal as a world record?
Penny has shark blood on her record. For shame.