DAY SEVEN - sailing back to Palma

The final day on-board the Toftevaag and we sailed back to Port in Palma de Mallorca to get the boat ready for the next set of volunteers!  But I hadn’t anticipated the amount of press attention that the sighting of the great white shark would cause...

There were several camera crews waiting for us at port, so we spent the whole morning talking to them and fielding phone calls from other channels and media outlets. I loved it! As the only Brit on board, our captain was very happy for me to speak to the UK press, as he prefers to just get the work done.

The press wanted to focus on the story of a “huge man eating shark“ off the coast of a popular holiday resort. But the conservation message Alnitak really wants to get across, is that deep waters are a shark’s usual territory. The presence of a Great White shark in the Mediterranean is a good, albeit tentative sign, that they are back in these waters.  So why now? This could be due to the positive changes in long line fishing in the area, switching from fishing for sharks to swordfish instead. Or to other EU policies which have gone someway to protect some of the other species in the area, but of course, with only one sighting, we cannot draw any firm conclusions. 

After the sighting I got a call from BBC Radio 4 Today Programme to ask me to go on tomorrow morning – woohoo I have ALWAYS wanted to be on the Today programme! I also got a call from BBC Breakfast TV asking me to appear on the sofa on Sunday!! More importantly, I wanted to get across to the press the amount of plastic pollution we were seeing, and what people could do about this themselves. This is not as exciting as giant sharks, but just as important! Because there is so much we can all do to support our oceans. 

·       We can all stop using single use plastic (plastic bottles, containers, balloons and straws)

·       Start eating only fish that has been caught sustainably by looking out for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label, or use one of the great apps to tell you which fish are sustainable to eat currently.   If everyone did this, the impact would be enormous.

I have learnt so much this week.  One of the key things that will stay with me is that I want to be more courageous in my life; I want to explore this planet more, and have confidence when I am asked to speak on something I have worked on for so long (marine litter).  And I want to climb up that mast and do the look out from up there next year.

This has expedition has made me feel different, more energised and more optimistic, because there are people out there like these people; not just the Alnitak crew, but the volunteers as well; all changing the world in their own individual ways.  If have the time and means to do something like this, and are in need of inspiration, I cannot recommend it enough.  We will also definitely be having a reunion party!

Jasmine Spavieri