Endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh has called on David Cameron and other political leaders to act to protect the oceans as he completed his challenge to swim the Seven Seas.
Over the past month, Mr Pugh has completed long-distance swims in seven seas – the North, Black, Red, Mediterranean, Aegean, Arabic and Adriatic – to raise public awareness of the threats and the need for a global network of marine protected areas.
The seventh swim, a 40-mile haul from Southend-on-Sea to London, ended at the Thames Barrier where he warned of a catastrophic loss of marine life within a lifetime if oceans are not protected. He is to present David Cameron with a personal plea for action when the Prime Minister returns from holiday.
Shortly after clambering from the water Mr Pugh said some of what he has saw during the swims will haunt him. “It’s been eye-opening. I didn’t see a single shark or a single fish longer than 30cm in all that time. It’s frightening the state our seas are in.”
Highlights included seeing turtles around him “as far as I could see” in the Aegean and brightly-coloured corals in the Red Sea.
But close by were stretches of seabed turned into “wastelands” by piles of tyres, bottles, cans and other rubbish, made worse by overfishing which had removed all the large fish.