The Why? Who? Where? and What? of it all!

Have you ever enjoyed the beauty of the Greek seas and islands? Have you ever given a thought to how amazing it is that the waters are still relatively clean? Have you ever wondered how the search for energy will affect these waters? Have you ever been confused as to why fish are so expensive in a country surrounded by sea? Or why aquatic life seems to be ever more elusive to spot? Have you ever wondered if your kids or your grand kids will be able to experience the beautiful Greek seas and beaches like you have? If so please keep on reading!

If only 10% of the world seas are protected then that is enough to safeguard the future for the next generations. Presently only 1% of the Mediterranean is protected! Only 0.1% of the Greek seas are protected! This is a grave situation which WWF Greece is tirelessly trying to correct. Through the CYCLADES Life project which WWF is implementing with a number of partners within and beyond Greece, the first steps are being laid to establish a model Marine Protected Area, the first of its kind in the Mediterranean Sea. This will help protect one of its most iconic species from extinction: the critically endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal, with a mere remaining population of 600. The project which is already underway, aims to create a mutually beneficial protected zone around the island of Gyaros (which hosts the most significant population of Monk seals in the world), with Andros to the north and Syros to the east. In partnership with the local communities, including the fishermen of both Andros and Syros, WWF Greece aims to instil a sustainable environment for both the amazing wildlife in the region as well as the local community who will greatly benefit from sustainable fishing techniques and eco-tourism. For more details on the CYCLADES project, please visit http://www.cycladeslife.gr/en

As many of you will know, I moved to Greece 6 years ago. This coincided with the worst financial and humanitarian crisis that has hit Greece in decades. With so many charities and people in need of serious help during this time, the environmental and wildlife charities have not managed to raise the capital that they need to conduct their highly beneficial projects. It is quite ironic that during this time, the one item that is available for everyone to use and appreciate is the remarkable Greek nature and especially the aquatic environment. This is free, but unless we all do something relatively quickly to start protecting it, it is only a matter of time before we collectively ruin it!

That’s where I come in and the reason for this long email.

The CYCLADES Life project is under funded by about €80,000. I have never asked for sponsorship money before, I have never found a story that compelled me to action as this has done. So I have tried to come up with my own challenge which will not only draw attention to WWF Greece’s CYCLADES project but also hopefully compel you to give as generously as possible to help support this cause. I am aware that many of you are often asked to contribute to very worthwhile causes, sponsoring friends and family to take on challenges of their own. But please spend a moment to picture a handful of pup seals basking next to their mothers on the safe beaches of Gyaros at daybreak and remember how you felt seeing dolphins dancing in the waves whilst travelling at sea. Try to imagine your life without these. Bring to mind the sensation of swimming in crystal clear waters, of idling on heavenly beaches, of sipping a cold beer next to the sparkling sea at sunset. Please think long and hard as to how we all have a responsibility to protect the beauty and nature that surrounds us. It is for this reason I ask for your sponsorship.

The challenge:

I plan to swim a one and half open water Olympic marathon! That is 15kms in one go, in the sea, without leaving the water or standing on the seabed, without the use of a wetsuit, or any floating equipment (not even whilst eating or drinking). I plan to do this on Saturday October 11th 2014 in the bay of Porto Rafti. Up until this crazy idea entered my head the maximum I had ever swam in one go was 800 meters!! So I assure you this is a huge challenge for me which will likely take me about 8 hours to complete and I only have 3 months training time.

Your help:

In order to make this challenge worthwhile I would like to raise as much of the remaining €80,000 as possible. I have already got the ball rolling by sponsoring myself €500 per kilometer, so my total is €7,500. You can sponsor me per kilometer if you like or with one lump sum. And I would like to encourage as many of you as possible to also participate! You can choose a distance of your choice: 1km, 2km, 5km, 10km; a swim that will signify your own hard challenge in order to actively fundraise for this great cause! As a suggestion I would like to ask that you raise €500 per kilometer that you decide to swim; so a 2km challenge would raise €1,000; a 5km challenge would raise €2,500 etc. It would be absolutely excellent if you could swim with me on the 11th October in Porto Rafti; all you need to do is inform me as soon as possible, preferably at least one month before the event. There will be a course laid out with buoys, kayaks and boats floating around to help with drinks and food, and a small party on the beach for when everyone finishes. Of course if you prefer to take on this challenge closer to your home, then any large swimming pool will do!

Next steps:

Firstly I would like to thank you for reading this far! The next step is to simply email me back with any pledges that you would like to make, or indications that you would also like to take part in the swim alongside me and the number of kilometers you would like to swim. Following the successful swim on October the 11th, the funds raised will then be handed over to WWF Greece. Once I know who wants to swim with me then I will revert to them with further details of the event. That’s it!

I hope that as many of you as possible will be able to help this valuable cause.

I thank you very much for your time.

Paul

Paul

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