Pugh to buttonhole Putin

2015-03-17 00:00

ENDURANCE swimmer and environment activist Lewis Pugh hopes to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday night.

Pugh (45) will fly from his Cape Town home today to meet with policy makers and lobby for support of conservation projects in Anarctica’s Ross Sea.

Pugh recently swam in five of the 13 seas around Antarctica to raise awareness for the urgent need to give the Ross Sea international conservation status. His main aim is to have most of the Antarctic conserved.

Pugh said his meetings in the Kremlin will take behind closed doors as this was “a very sensitive time in Russia’s history”, but he hoped to instil national pride in Russia by reminding the policy makers it was the Russian expedition of Fabian von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev that discovered Antarctica in 1820.

Pugh said if he could convince Russia’s policymakers with his conservation message, he is all but sure an international convention can follow, as Russia currently chairs the Commission for the Conservation of Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). The country also maintains nine scientific stations in Antarctica.

He said the Ross Sea was bitterly cold to swim in, but he was lost for words to describe what it was like to swim between colossal whales, sleek seals and darting penguins. During his 32 days in Antarctica Pugh also saw several pods of killer whales, but luckily he was on a boat during each sighting.

Pugh said especially Japanese trawlers are still hunting whales in the area.

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