This month’s Big Issue cover star is extreme swimmer and ocean activist Lewis Pugh – and his companion is Rocky, a rockhopper penguin.
Bartlett, The Big Issue’s intrepid celebrity and entertainment reporter visited a gym sauna with Lewis to chat about the many challenges faced by our oceans, including climate change (it’s getting hotter out there). Many know him best as the human polar bear – but pioneer swimmer Lewis Pugh is facing down bigger issues than icy water.
A dedicated ocean activist who in June was named the UN Environment Programme’s Patron for Oceans, Pugh is committed to raising awareness about the dire state of our seas. Soon, he’ll set out on an enormous three-year expedition that will test him to the limits, physically and psychologically, and put the spotlight on the need for further ocean conservation.
Bartlett: Where does your mind take you when you are swimming?
Lewis Pugh: It depends on how cold the water is. When it’s really cold, I’m really focused. It’s that feeling of going into a car crash: everything is happening really fast, but it all slows down. I’m hyper-aware in cold water.
Bartlett: What’s next?
Lewis Pugh: It all starts with penguins, which I love. In the last 13 years, numbers of African Penguins have dropped from 100 000 to 60 000, down from three and four million 100 years ago. Penguins are an indicator species: they are easy to count, as they come ashore, lay their eggs and don’t fly. From them you can tell the state of our oceans. If there are few penguins, there are few fish. Whether it’s along the Great Barrier Reef or the North Sea, worldwide there is a huge plummeting of [numbers of] fish and marine birds, caused by overfishing obviously, pollution (oil, plastic and other forms), and climate change. So I’ve made a decision to join the dots between those three stories by undertaking a huge expedition that will take an estimated three years.
The full article appears in the Issue 213 of The Big Issue – on sale now to 24 October 2013. Buy a copy today!
via Cape Town Green Map.