Ultra Swimmer’s Crew Kills Three Sharks So She Can Set Record

UPDATE: Since this report first came out two weeks ago, organizers of Palfrey’s swim have denied sharks were killed. There


UPDATE: Since this report first came out two weeks ago, organizers of Palfrey’s swim have denied sharks were killed. There has been no statement from Palfrey. For more, see the comments after the post.

Penny Palfrey, a 48-year-old Australian ultra swimmer and grandmother, set the world record last weekend for unassisted solo ocean swim, logging 67.25 miles between Little Cayman and Grand Cayman islands. She was in the water for 40 hours and 41 minutes, and when she walked onto a Grand Cayman beach her face was so swollen she was nearly unrecognizable. She was released from a local hospital on Tuesday after two days of recovery, but still could not speak.

Palfrey was hailed for her accomplishment, which was four miles longer than the previous record, but was criticized by conservationists for the killing of three sharks that approached her during the swim. Four oceanic white tips came near her, and several times at night during her swim she was bumped by something large. One of the members of her support team traveling in a small inflatable, a local fisherman named Charles Ebanks, distracted the sharks with dead fish, then killed three of six- to eight-footers with a machete.

PLUS: The 8 Rules to Avoid Getting Eaten By Sharks

“It was not in any of our plans for that to happen,” Chris Palfrey, Penny’s husband, told the CayCompass. “I was not aware it was going to happen until after the event. Our goal was to do a swim. It was not to do anything to the environment.”

Media reports generally have praised Palfrey for her brave swim through “shark-infested” waters, with little but passing acknowledgment to the killing of the sharks. And even the criticism by environmentalists has been muted.

The director of the Cayman Islands Department of Environment, Gina Ebanks-Petrie, said, “Given the importance of sharks as a top-level predator in the marine environment, the DoE would have preferred to have seen this incident handled differently.”

Um, hello? Three full-sized sharks were chopped to death so some woman could achieve personal glory by swimming for almost two days? Let’s have a little perspective here. Imagine an ultra runner wants to set a new record racing across the bear-infested northern Rockies. Four bears approach her while she’s running along the trail and her support crew uses some manky bilious road kill to lure them away, where they’re shot dead. Sharks might not be the friend of swimmers or surfers, but the fact that they’re predators and this took place in the ocean, where bloody deeds quickly fade from sight, makes it no less of an abomination.

Oceanic whitetips are classified as “vulnerable” under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s assessment of species, and one-third of the world’s sharks are “threatened”, according to IUCN. In the Gulf of Mexico, it’s estimated that their population fell 99.3 percent from 1950s to the 1990s. The main culprits are drift nets, longline fishing, and overfishing, and their fins are prized for shark fin soup.

Palfrey’s crew certainly had reason for concern. Whitetips are responsible for more human deaths than all other shark species combined – although not fast swimmers, they stay close to the surface cruising for food and are quickly on the scene in shipwrecks and downed aircraft. But the recommended response if one comes within the vicinity of a diver, swimmer, or surfer is not to hack them to death. It’s simply to get out of the water. Apparently, Palfrey’s desire to break the record (it was her third attempt) was more important than that.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has generated more outrage, debate, and comments than almost any other piece we’ve run. However, much of the commentary has turned to personal attacks on either Palfrey or other commenters. Insults and name calling will not be tolerated, and such comments will be deleted or blocked.

This environmental coverage made possible in part by support from Patagonia. For information on Patagonia and its environmental efforts, visit www.patagonia.com.

 

Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal. Follow him on Instagram at @stevecasimiro.
Showing 92 comments
  • Erin
    Reply

    Are there any legal ramifications for those actions?

  • kgb
    Reply

    Her record should not stand! Swimming through ‘shark infested’ water was her choice. Having her support crew kill these natural hazards to protect her hardly makes her swim unassisted. I hope there is outrage over this.

  • Mike
    Reply

    It’s disgusting …

  • Joe
    Reply

    It may not “have been in their plans” for that to happen, but they were certainly prepared for it to happen.

    Before we chastise the swimmer, it was a local fisherman that did it as a member of her support team. Was he instructed to do that? Or was he just instructed to distract them away from her? Methinks he’s chopped up more than these three in his time fishing…

  • Kim Kircher
    Reply

    How can this be considered an “unassisted swim” when her crew made the water safe by killing sharks?

  • Mike
    Reply

    Despicable! That’s their habitat. Sharks are just part of the risks involved, just like Polar Bears in the Arctic or Grizzly Bears in Alberta/BC/Alaska. If you can’t handle the risks, try lawn bowling or pick a different location.

  • kevin
    Reply

    i second the despicable!

  • John Trekce
    Reply

    Killing sharks to set a meaningless record? This is disgusting.

  • stew
    Reply

    While I respect the achievement of the swim (being a swimmer and sportsman myself) I disagree with way this wasandled.
    Will be very wrong if no actions are taken against parties involved. If no responisbility is placed here, will happen again and again.

  • Lladnar Nivep
    Reply

    She should have abandoned her quest to set the record instead of whacking a few sharks for her own glory. Having said that, she must have been crapping her speedos. I would have been walking on water at the first sight of an 8 foot whitetip sneaking up on me.

  • mario
    Reply

    this is real journalism. congratulations to report this, steve casimiro. i always enjoy your posts.

  • Barry Sierra
    Reply

    Yeah a great story, great information and nicely put together. As a person that has worked in the dive industry and seen the beauty of the underwater realm, it always angers me when I see unnecessary damage, or killing of marine creatures. But I don’t think you can blame her; she was just trying to achieve something personally meaningful, but steps should have been taken in preparation for the swim. Anti-shark deterrents, such as the surfing pods that disrupt ‘blackhead’ receptors on the sharks, should have been used before machetes!

  • Seth
    Reply

    Truly unfortunate and unnecessary; however, it would be a different story if she killed them herself with her own bare hands…

  • Jim Schniepp
    Reply

    Is she a robot? Could she not stop swimming? Disgusting

  • EliasTL
    Reply

    ‘Disgusting’ might be a bit too harsh here. Put yourself in her shoes for a sec – at this point in her swim, she can’t really defend herself. Imagine how your own body would feel after dozens and dozens of miles in the open ocean. Not exactly a pool at the rec center. Just running 10 or so miles and I’ll get numb and a little sloppy with my own motions. Now get bumped by sharks (!) at night (!) that are bigger than you. Ever try to pull yourself into a boat when you were obscenely tired? All that thrashin’ around is going to draw some attention. One moderate bite and you’d bleed out long before getting to help. Now put yourself in an inflatable boat in the middle of the same ocean. Not much protection from a school (Whitetips school if I remember correctly) of sharks is it? I think they were dealing with a real-live emergency situation. You’d agree if it was you or your family in the water. They weren’t exactly clubbing baby seals out there. Besides, how bad ass do you have to be to kill sharks with a machette? From a glorified balloon? Give it a shot – I dare you!

    Oh and Mr Casimiro, big fan of yours ever since your Powder Mag days. I can’t see your parallel between 4 bears and a gun to 3 sharks and a machette. Bit of a stretch dude.

    From a true blue, left leanin’, green-till-I-die kinda guy. Bummer situation yes, disgusting…? No I can’t support that.

  • bp
    Reply

    absolutely disgusting – her record should not stand. How can this Elias thing even justify killing endangered animals so that she can complete a swim and that’s all it was, a swim.

  • Steve
    Reply

    This is sickening. Some species of sharks are down by 90%. Thanks for blogging about this and bringing it to our attention!

  • Christopher Winn
    Reply

    Now, whenever I hear the words personal accomplishment or delicacy, I shiver.

  • Lisa
    Reply

    This article was so appalling I almost couldn’t believe it at first. Did they not expect there to be sharks and other sea creatures that live in the ocean along the way?? These people need felony animal cruelty charges brought against them and heavily fined if not jailed. There are so many people like Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherds (protecting whales), and Ric O’Berry (protecting dolphins) risking their lives to protect our oceans and the creatures that rightly live in them and then you hear about this. Thanks you for bringing this to light. This is one of the most disgusting acts of vanity and cruelty I have ever heard. Hopefully if enough people act on this, charges will be brought against them!

  • Blue
    Reply

    i entirely agree with EliasTL it is honestly an amazing accomplishment with an unfortunate action, but there is way bigger shark killers out there and a need for government spending on protection.

  • EliasTL
    Reply

    Oops. Sorry – didn’t realize that I was on a PETA site. Please keep being outraged. It’s good for you!
    http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/05/28/101-being-offended/

  • ryan
    Reply

    Elias says green to the core, but doesnt have a problem with killing soon to be endangered species.

    Sorry, buddy, but you are not green.

  • ME
    Reply

    She should not be allowed to swim!

  • sue bland
    Reply

    Disgusting, I wont write what I’m thinking, they wouldn’t like it.

  • Me2
    Reply

    Curse you Penny Palfrey. Curse you and your crew.

  • dee cunliffe
    Reply

    So you took 3 lives just so you could break a record that was murder how could you let that happen

  • David Wilson
    Reply

    I think this hardly qualifies as an “unassisted” swim. I also think there were plenty of options available for her “crew” other than killing sharks. Too bad those “bumps” weren’t actual bites. We don’t exist in the ocean. She could have swam a thousand laps in a pool to achieve the same goal. I hope she’s proud of her paltry accomplishment. Any personal goal achieved by killing somthing else, especially an endangered species like a shark, hardly qualifies as any kind of glorious record. Thumbs way down!

  • dan
    Reply

    Boooooooooooooo! You are a disgrace to competitive swimmer everywhere. Saying you set this record is a farce. Shame on you.

  • Lisa
    Reply

    Really disgusting to kill the sharks! Shame on you! Sharks need to be protect!

  • Was It Worth It?
    Reply

    REALLY?!?!
    QUOTE : “It was not in any of our plans for that to happen,” said Chris Palfrey, Penny’s husband. “I was not aware it was going to happen until after the event. Our goal was to do a swim. It was not to do anything to the environment.”
    You didn’t think there might be SHARKS in the Ocean and she might be risking her safety? IMO if breaking the record was that important to her then you take the risks that are associated with it….. I think your record is tarnished and for good reason. Better planning may have avoided this sad occurrence. The plan should have been if you enter an area with large shark population you abort your mission and call it a day……….Very irresponsible & shameful… humans don’t own the planet we merely live in it with every other creature!

  • elikat
    Reply

    @EliasTL: She put herself in that situation knowing very well there was a good possibility to run into open ocean predators, making these 3 deaths absolutely pointless. It is nothing short of horrendous.

  • Doug
    Reply

    I scuba dive. If a shark comes to bite me I am going to defend myself. You can bet on that jack. Bet you would 2 nature boys and girls. So just rember when you go swimming or walking in the woods you are fair game to them!!!! Food 4thought.

  • Nancy
    Reply

    What a waste of time and stupid ego. You don’t go into a shark’s environment and do this. This is a meaningless record and two weeks from now, who is going to care that she set the record? Has she made the world a better place? Her actions certainly have contributed towards reducing a vulnerable species.

    Please tell me how setting a record in swimming helps the world. Please.

  • Edith Bauer
    Reply

    Empty “victory”. So sad that someone has to chop up sharks while swimming in the ocean to accomplish a narcisstic goal. I would hate to have a title of “the lady who hacked up sharks satisfy. personal goal”

  • Sophie
    Reply

    EliasTL – I am appalled by your reaction. Just because it isn’t a ‘baby seal’ doesn’t mean there is any justification for killing an animal who acts only on its instinct. Men have been pardoned for killing a trespasser in their homes, whereas a shark who attacks a person in the ocean is mercilessly killed by a jumped up little fisherman and some woman trying to set a world record.
    Just because it is a sharks life doesn’t mean it has a lower status than a human’s, nor does it mean that it’s life is any less important than a world record.
    Up to 73 million sharks are killed a year by the Shark finning industry in a cruel multi-million dollar trade to provide the Asian shark fin soup market. The results of this is that 90% of all shark populations are in serious decline. This isn’t even a moral issue of a life for a life as the woman took it upon herself to enter the water. She should have known the risks and handled them accordingly!
    I would also like to mention that only 5 people a year are killed by shark, with 8,000,000 people dying of starvation. AND furthermore white-tip’s are not known for being man-eaters. The likelihood of her even being bitten is small, but would have been much smaller if she hadn’t swam through ‘shark-infested’ waters.

  • Carrie Ball
    Reply

    Yes the swim record is a great achievement for Penny Palfrey, I am all for trying to achieve one’s full potential! but surely going for a two day swim in shark infested waters was like ringing the dinner bell for the sharks, who act purely on instinct and cannot be blamed . Surely it wasnt a surprise for the crew that sharks would show an interest in her?! sharks have been here for about 400 million years and are very efficient predators.They have as much right to live in their own habitat as part as the eco system they have helped to create, as we have to live in ours! In my humble opinion, Penny Palfrey and her crew were ridiculously unprepared in this enterprise! The word “ARROGANT” springs to mind! … oh and one last point.. apparently shes a grandmother! what would have happened if she had been killed by a shark? “wheres grandma?” “shes been eaten by a shark!” then follows twenty years of counciling for her grandkids!

  • paul
    Reply

    Shocking, she should be ashamed!!

  • Daniel
    Reply

    So let me get this right… Billions of animals are slaughtered each year, for food, fun, sport, farming, “the heck of it”, pest control and we make this big of a deal for 3 sharks? Get perspective, as a race we do what we want, and that includes killing women and children because some guy in a white house thinks that some other guy across the planet deserves to die. Corporations are poisoning people to make more money, starving other to make more money and again, you would want me to worry about 3 sharks? I don’t think so.

  • Harri
    Reply

    this is not an “accomplishment”, it is a shameful display of foolishness and pride that brings no credit to the performer. LOSER!

  • scubagirl
    Reply

    this is wrong and disgusting on so many levels, killing top predators in an environment you are a guest in would be like me walking past your house and killing your family just because they where looking at me. her record should be pulled as this was not an unassisted swim, luring sharks away from someone is assisting since they did not do it themselves, and third time or not she should know better and have better understanding and respect for nature and an endangered species. no record, title, or idiotic stunt for your own ego is worth that. had this been handled differently it could have shown in a better light, like if they had not killed the sharks she could have been even more well know for having a record while practicing shark conservation, but i guess thinking ahead was not a major skill set that was valued when they were looking for a support crew.

  • T-Bill
    Reply

    For those of you saying that you would defend yourself if the shark came after you in the water. Ok, that’s one thing when you are backed into a corner. This woman was not in that situation! She had the option of getting picked up by her support crew. Instead they killed not one but three sharks for coming too close to her. For threatening her. If I go walking through a sketchy part of town, I’m not going to kill the a bunch of scary looking men because I think they “might” kill me. Now if they pull a knife on me, different story.

    This is not an admirable person or accomplishment.

  • Trish
    Reply

    If you want to push yourself to your limits, do it somewhere where you won’t have to harm another creature to enable your own ego. I’m disappointed by this woman and her ‘protectors’.

  • SecretSquirrel
    Reply

    What a disgusting effort. If you are swimming unassisted than so be it. Don’t tell me they didn’t discuss it previously! did they happen to be carrying guns for pirates??? Disgusting and shameful. No achievement At all.

  • Brad Lawton
    Reply

    May I ask what the difference is between someone destroying a Hornets nest, or spraying pesticides at a local rec facility, or letting 50 hunters hunt defenseless deer, just because they are near our homes are?

    The moral of the story here is, that protesters pick their battles. They comment on what they want, and push for what they feel will have the largest effect on people.

    I feel like she did no more wrong then you did when you stepped on the bug that was on your porch while you were having a cook out. Or the insect zapper you have on your deck. Get over it. It happens every day. Until you stop pointing fingers and start looking at your own self preservation, don’t be so hasty to judge someone for executing the same principles of survival that we use everyday.

  • Sue Batchelor
    Reply

    How b****y disgusting! What a selfish cow!! I’m sorry – I am a keen swimmer myself, and have raised money for charity by swimming ( I see no mention of sponsorship in this so called challenge of hers?)….she chose to do it, where the sharks live!!…distracting them with fish is one thing, but subjecting them to a horriffic death – she should get prosecuted.

  • Stiofan
    Reply

    Not impressed.

    You can defend yourself if in critical danger but better to simply get out of the water! Shocking and irresponsible. Im not a bleeding heart conservationist running on blind emotion, but WE ALL rely on the earths oceans for 60-70% of our oxygen. The balance is produced by our rainforests and jungles. I am against anything which threatens the balance of either ecosystem. Killing an apex preditor is not good.

  • Will
    Reply

    wow this is straight 19th century behaviour! this lady and her crew must be havin a laugh arent they? im struggling to comprehend the stupidity of what they did. it would be acceptable if the sharks had somehow come into her backyard and started attacking her. but she decided to go into their home instead, and her crew killed them for coming too close her?? also most people posting on here are way off in their views. for starters, she was in extremely minimal, if any danger. sharks are curious, they would have been checking her out. pelagic predators have to investigate anything unusual incase its a food option, because they dont come around very often out there. turns out she wasnt one, being that she’s a human. yes oceanic white tips are resposible for the most human deaths throughout history but thats down to the fact that when a ship sinks and theres water full of dead and dying humans, they happen to be the ones who are in the area. they dont attack someone swimming strongly next to boats. her crew actually put her in danger by essentially chumming the water with dead fish (to ‘lure’ the shark away *facepalm*) the first time, and then shark blood shortly after (again, *face….ah never mind). seems like a pretty solid way to attract more sharks whose senses have been triggered by the smell of natural prey’s bodily fluids. all they really had to do was keep a close eye on the sharks, and if they got to close for comfort (and i mean comfort, not safety), then a jab on the nose with an oar wouldve sufficed. if the situation really got bad, they could easily have pulled her out, beacause afterall, a big ol’ swim isnt worth risking injury from an over curious shark. killing them was just plain old retarded. i would expect that from uneducated teenage fishermen from a remote island in a third world country, maybe, but not a professional support crew. and Elias, oceanic whitetips arent a schooling fish, they are very much solitary animals. nor do they attack rubber rafts. im not sure why? it makes sense to eat plastic and rubber instead of fish because theres so much more of it in the sea and it doesnt swim as fast. also, please explain in detail the factors that make clubbing a seal so much worse than machete-ing sharks, because the survival of the planet doesnt depend on seals. and Doug the diver, im also a diver. if you ever get bitten by a shark whilst diving, please let me know, i would love to hear the story of exactly how it managed to transpire. right, im off to the dog park with my shotgun, afterall, dogs kill about 50,000 people a year worldwide, which i admit is only a measly 10,000 deaths for every 1 death caused by shraks, but still, im trying to break my record for lapping the dog park 10 times and i dont want them ruining it!

  • John "Padi MSDT" Robertson
    Reply

    how would she like it if a shark decided to do an unassited swim through in her local swimming pool and a few of his shark mates came along as support and ate some swimmers so he could get through safely? Her crew should be arrested for animal cruelty. She was swimming in the sharks natural habitat !

  • Ledean Paden
    Reply

    How was this allowed to happen? Why was a story written about her and can nother legal be done to prevent this from happening next time someone wants to break a record in the ocean? Can she or her helpers be charged with anything?

  • Brett callow
    Reply

    Very irresponsible & shameful, more pointless deaths of Sharks.
    As if shark finning is not bad enough. Now we kill them so some one can set a record. Whats next killing baby seals because “how dare they be in the way of some guy trying to set record to the south pole”…………absolutely horrendous

  • Leon
    Reply

    3 sharks killed so a woman can go for a swim…actually, I’m going for a walk in the park this afternoon, god help any dogs that get in my way!

  • Jes
    Reply

    This makes me so sad……… What a price to pay for the title “record”.

  • Debbie
    Reply

    Please read this post before you jump to conclusions: http://kozhawaii.blogspot.com/2011/06/penny-palfreys-core-team-member-speaks.html

  • A.
    Reply

    Debbie, I read the article you posted. The author of the blog admits that “her core crew never considered anything but what to do after she was bitten.” What kind of defense is that?

    These are people who consider themselves professionals who love the ocean, yet it never occurred to them to prepare for the possibility that she might be approached by a shark in shark-infested waters?

    Her team’s lack of preparation was the problem here. This blogger, Koz, eagerly blames the incident on sharks who “thoughtlessly attacked.” Um… Seriously? Are we really so dumb that we don’t know how sharks behave? This blogger tries pleading his case, but comes off very badly.

  • Timichango
    Reply

    @ EliasTL:

    Yes, it’s disgusting. The right move would have been to get back in her boat, and abandon her ego-quest, rather than forcing the pointless slaughter of 3 wild animals in the name of a frivolous sporting activity.

    And frankly, I think that insinuating that it’s forgivable or merit-worthy because it’s ‘bad-ass’ to kill sharks from an inflatable boat is pure macho idiocy. It doesn’t matter how tough or ‘bad ass’ you think it is to kill sharks in this matter: It’s still wrong, and reprehensible. Grow up.

  • Debbie
    Reply

    This excerpt is taken from a letter from the Cayman Island Department of Tourism who interviewed Charles Ebanks: Charles Ebanks, fisherman who reportedly killed the sharks said “I hooked the sharks and dragged them out of Penny’s way,” he said. “The first one I dragged about a quarter mile away. The second one was very aggressive. I rode the boat over him and he kept swimming towards Penny and was within 5-10 ft of her. I threw a bait and he took the bait and I dragged him away. I hooked the third one and pulled him away. But I couldn’t get the hook out so I cut him and used the back of the knife to try to get the hook out. I let him go and he swam away. Couldn’t say if he died, but when I let him go he was alive. There was a fourth one, which wasn’t close or aggressive so I didn’t even hook him. I was there, I did not kill any sharks. They are assuming I did something which is not true and you can quote me on this,” he said.

    Charles also stated that the boat captain from the boat that the Compass reporter (Norma Connolly) was on, asked him what he did with the sharks and he replied, “I got rid of them.” He said he thinks the Compass reporter could have taken that to mean that they were killed.
    This should be carried by the AP soon. Watch for it…

  • Gregory Kingley
    Reply

    So is he lying to get himself out of trouble? I think every member of the crew needs to be interviewed here. Also wondering why so many of my comments have been deleted when I’m just trying to participate in a forum.

    • steve casimiro
      Reply

      If you have something constructive to add to the conversation, you are welcome to comment. Piling on and simply offering more criticism will result in comments being blocked or deleted.

  • Mike
    Reply

    after reading the article I scrolled down to a couple of comments and was shocked that some people still think killing of sharks or any other creature is OK if they are in the way of the glorious HOMO SAPIENS….sorry , but all of those should be re-classified as HOMO ERECTUS-can walk up-right but no intelligence.
    I find all this glory-seeking and breaking of records rather stupid and accept real achivements but not these ultra ultra stupid goals…….why does no-one try to jump out of a plane without parachute? because its stupid and kills.
    I live here on the southern tip of africa and trust me we have big sharks. I have seen and filmed them while diving. We have worked documentries and had never the need or urge to kill anything.
    As these people who planned this stupidity knew that sharks could appear-all they planned for was a local fisherman with hooks, bait and machete……truly amazing……..a little bit of research and voila…….how do you keep sharks away??????? the thing is called SHARKPOD and gets sold in sunny southafrica to divers and surfers…………..ahhhh, but the again…..HOMO ERECTUS, walks upright but has no functioning brain.

  • Suzanne Maresca
    Reply

    Personal glory and accomplishment takes a back seat ANY DAY to maintaining a healthy respect for our oceans. To slaughter no less than 3 endangered apex predators to achieve this is clearly wrong and most here seem to agree on that. Perhaps her dreams will be troubled until she comes forth in abject apology to be a voice for sharks and for the oceans. Perhaps she and her team were so focused on what they wanted to do that they lost sight of reason and common sense. It isn’t rocket science to predict that one lone human body out of it’s element traversing over 65 miles of open ocean might encounter a shark or any number of other dangers. I will hold the idea of reconciliation in my heart for her ~ but she has work to do.

  • Shannon
    Reply

    Jeff Kozlovich was on the boat standing next to Norma when the shark was hooked.
    http://kozhawaii.blogspot.com/2011/06/penny-palfreys-core-team-member-speaks.html

    Steve Munatones was on the boat as well:
    http://www.dailynewsofopenwaterswimming.com/2011/06/penny-smiles-but-others-do-not.html

    These are the findings of the interview with Ebanks (the alleged shark killer) and the locals who were on the boat crew as well as the Department of Tourism findings on this matter:
    http://www.facebook.com/notes/bridging-the-cayman-islands/statement-from-the-organizers-of-penny-palfreys-bridging-the-cayman-islands-swim/238834866128494

    Sharks were hooked and dragged away, not good for the sharks… but far better than dying. Read the part of jeffs article where it talks about what Penny and her Support Crew had decided to do about sharks. Ebanks was part of the Boat Crew… there is a difference in the boat crew and Penny’s support Crew, the biggest distinction I can find is that Penny hand picked her Support Crew and the Boat Crew came with the boat. If I find that I am wrong about the latter I will post a retraction.

    When all this is put together the gist of it is more “sharks were hooked baited and dragged off by a fisherman whose only reply when he came back was I got rid of them and that was taken the wrong way by the reporter” rather than “3 sharks were chopped up and bleeding in the water around a swimmer thus putting her in more danger”

    No one is saying that no sharks were HARMED (hooks hurt), just that they were not killed.

  • Gregory Kingley
    Reply

    Re: Shannon. I sense a cover-up here.

  • Lisa
    Reply

    Me too!! Like anyone on the boat involved would now admit to anything after all the controversy!! Funny how now, No sharks were killed or harmed-sure!

  • Debbie
    Reply

    If you had followed the story from the beginning you might not think there was a coverup. The Department of Tourism conducted an investigation and found no sharks killed. There were 26 other people on the boats (reporters, medical personnel, boat crew) in addition to Penny’s crew. Why would they not come forward? Someone would have seen something or taken a picture. There was only one article that said sharks were killed. It was by a photojournalisst on the boat. You would think she would have pictures of such a dramatic event. That reporter has been unavailable since the investigation report came out. The CaymanCompass issued another article about the swim with no mention of the sharks.

  • Shannon
    Reply

    You really should remove this story, or at the very least also cover the recent discovery that this was a gross mis representation of the facts by Norma Connolly who wrote the first article about this.

    http://kozhawaii.blogspot.com/2011/06/penny-palfrey-and-crew-cleared-of-shark.html?spref=fb

  • Gregory Kingley
    Reply

    I would very much like to hear what that photojournalist has to say now before I consider this matter concluded.

  • Debbie
    Reply

    Gregory please contact her and post what you find. She has not returned any emails since the investigation came out. This is her email at the CaymanCompass: norma@cfp.ky.

    • steve casimiro
      Reply

      Debbie and AJ readers:

      I have tried repeatedly to reach the reporter who quoted Charles Ebanks about the death of sharks, with no luck. I will continue to do so and will attempt to reach Ebanks and the Cayman tourism organization after the July 4th weekend.

      At this point, there are two contradictory positions, one from a reporter who would seem to be the closest unbiased observer, the other from the organizer that put on the swim and has everything to lose from such an incident and its associated negative press. A quote from the organizer from an alleged letter about an interview that was supposed to have taken place does not clear up the situation. It adds to hearsay. And if, as you have argued, the Cay Compass reporter misunderstood what Ebanks meant about taking care of the sharks, it does not explain why Palfrey’s husband would say, “It was not in any of our plans for that to happen.” Perhaps sharks were killed and that was his explanation, perhaps sharks were not killed but he thought they were, and perhaps he was referring to something else. Until Palfrey and her husband come forward with a full explanation, until reporter Norma Connolly responds to attempts to reach her, until Ebanks is interview, it will continue to be a situation without a clear answer.

  • Shark Hugger
    Reply

    Steve C., Thank you for continuing to pursue this, as absolutely nothing about it adds up… I contacted Norma twice via e-mail, once immediately following this incident (06/16) and again on (06/23) both times she re-confirmed to me that she directly witnessed 2 sharks killed, and she was told by eBanks he killed a third. She said that is what she saw, that is what she reported, and is standing by what she saw and wrote in her article (which is still very much online and un-edited on the Compass website……). This is just silly now….what are they thinking..? If this support team > fisherman who was part of the support team did NOT kill any sharks I am sure they will be at this point launching fairly large lawsuit(s) against Norma and the Compass for libel, slander, defamation, etc….?? Penny’s name has been tarnished by this, if no sharks were killed and Norma fabricated/exaggereted what she saw they will be going after her with guns blazing…. Unless Norma comes forward and admits she falsely reported and is being sued from a few angles then I do believe they are absolutely covering it all up, which at this point is just insult on top of gross injury now. Everyone involved has been nothing but immediately defensive. Good luck to them, and I am really glad to see others still pursuing this for answers. The truth always comes out in the end.

  • Shannon
    Reply

    Did you see the new article that the Cayman Compass had their sports writer post? It doesn’t even mention the killing or not killing of sharks. When I wrote to him about that all he said was “I have no comment about sharks”. This article came out right after they had a “management meeting” about the Flowers report that came out saying no sharks were killed. Bleh, they really should have done more than that because of all the damage they caused with Norma’s article.

    http://www.compasscayman.com/caycompass/2011/06/28/No-thoughts-of-quitting-at-48/

  • Debbie
    Reply

    Shark hugger, Norma has not answered anyone elses questions as far as I have found. I find it curious that she is a photojournalist and has not posted any photos. She seems to be the only one who saw sharks being killed and has made no attempt to prove that. Her first article did not use the word “kill” but then her second one did and they seem to be referring to the same events. I would like to know what changed in between those two. I am writing a book about events around the ocean and would like this to be a chapter. I am interested in the truth. Doesn’t seem reasonable that out of 26 people (that is not including Penny’s support crew) no one twittered, blogged, videoed, or captured a picture with their cell phone of such a dramatic, horrific event. It doesn’t seem like Norma did either. Norma has not answered any of my emails.

  • Shark Hugger
    Reply

    From: Tammie Chisholm
    Date: Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    Cayman Free Press stands behind the articles and our journalist 100 per cent.

    Regards,

    Tammie C. Chisholm
    Editor
    Cayman Free Press

    Tel: (345) 949 5111 Ext. 226

    Direct Line: (345) 815 0026

    Cell: (345) 325 5078
    Fax: (345) 949 2662
    Email: tammie@cfp.ky

  • Debbie
    Reply

    Here are the documented facts: Norma Connolly wrote two articles about Penny Palfrey’s swim and the sharks. The first article did not use the word kill but the second did.. No one else saw this and she doesn’t seem to have a photo. She must have had a source for the second article since her story changed. When emails were sent to her asking for verification that sharks were killed she responded, “I was also on the boat and saw what happened.” That did not answer the question. Then as soon as the investigation from the Department of Tourism was released Norma was “out of the office”. Based on their findings, Norma’s article was false. There was an “uppermanagement meeting” at the CaymanPress to discuss this issue. Norma is back but will not or is not allowed to answer her emails regarding this event. Weeks after this epic event the sports writer put out a story with no mention about the sharks and then said he has “no view on the shark killings”. Then Tammie, the editor, wrote that there is “nothing to hide.”

    I don’t know the truth here but I think Norma has a part of it. Penny’s reputation and that of her core support crew, who came from all over the world, is tarnished because of sensationalism and twisted facts such as the fact that the fisherman was part of the boat crew and not Penny’s crew. Why was there no follow up article? Why just drop the story when it stirred so much controversy, and an investigation found the reporter to be wrong? The press loves controversy. Why didn’t she go back and interview the fisherman? Why just drop such a hot topic if she knew she was right? Doesn’t sound like the press to me. Why would a sports writer who wasn’t part of this event write a story about it weeks after it happened?

    Based on these facts it looks like there is something to hide.
    Try to contact the photojournalist and find out: norma@cfp.ky We should demand truth and disclosure from the press.

  • mike
    Reply

    i think its awesome she swam that far. for all of you people out there that think legal actions should be taken GROW UP!. they’re sharks, not babies. and all of you environmentalists can grow up too. nobody care about your cause to save sharks. they’ve been doing just fine and killing 3 of them wont effect anything. instead of being childish, how about you congratulate her for doing something that no one commenting on this can do. and i don’t see you people complaining about deep sea fishing or tv shows about whaling or crab fishing. how about this. next time you people who are complaining are in the ocean and a shark attacks, we”ll just stand back and watch while it eats you. get off your pedestals!

  • Lindsay
    Reply

    I agree wholly with an earlier comment made by stew. I respect her skill in swimming but to harm sharks for the record is not at all acceptable. In saying this, I also feel as though this should not go unpunished, or more and more people will do it.

  • Debbie
    Reply

    Lindsay, maybe we should punish the people who started this false story and continue to insist they know the truth when they were not there…NO sharks were killed

  • cm
    Reply

    I have dived Little Cayman and it is one of the only robust marine sanctuaries in the region. The point of this swim was to demonstrate overcoming a NATURAL obstacle to achieve a HUMAN feat. Otherwise it is nothing more than getting on a treadmill at the gym. Truly unacceptable and shameful behavior.

  • Megs
    Reply

    i really like sharks and that breaks my heart that they were killed to set a ridiculous record

  • ASted
    Reply

    I’m always baffled by the disregard some people have for the life of other organisms on this planet…

  • Reedy Barfield
    Reply

    My only concern would be what was done with the sharks. They are a great source of protein and go great on the grill !!!!

  • Bart Barton
    Reply

    Big difference between hunting for meat to eat and butchering/discarding animals. Mr. Palfrey is an imbecile for pretending he had no knowledge, so it just looks like selfish people who couldn’t be bothered to do things correctly. I wouldn’t want my wife to be killed by a shark, that’s obvious. But a lady just swam from Cuba to near Florida among sharks and they didn’t feel the need to butcher any!! This was irresponsible and should be prosecuted.

  • Rad MC
    Reply

    You people are rediculous. Everybody has the right to defend themselves against wild animals no matter if they are lost, stranded, in their yard, hiking, or swimming in the middle of the ocean. Even if they are trying to break some stupid record. You can’t take a wait and see attitude toward oceanic white-tips, one investigative bite is all it takes to kill a person. Oceanic white-tips are known to not only bite, but repeatedly bite and consume people. It sounds to me like you people would like to have been there to witness the feeding frenzy that may have occured. I think your attitudes would be very different if you were swimming in the middle of the ocean with four known man-eaters. I have been a shark enthusiast for over 30years, and there is no way you can say oceanic white-tip sharks are not dangerous. That would be not only ignorant but also erroneous. So go kiss a shark, and be kind to animals.

  • Elly
    Reply

    This is hilarious. I completely agree with Rad MC. It doesn’t matter why she was in the water. I think swimming all that way is very admirable! If dangerous man-eating sharks come close to her, they aren’t likely to just swim away. If the fisherman hadn’t done anything then she would definitly have been eaten up. She definitly had a right to defend herself. Yes it would have been a good idea to take precautionary measures. I am by no means justifying an animals death. But it was necessary for her survival. Its sad, but its not “disgusting and shameful”. There is animal cruelty everywhere. Those people who abuse animals aren’t doing it for self defense, they’re doing it because they’re sick. Humans kill humans. There is so much bad in the world everywhere! But this is not. It amazes me how people get so opinionated and self righteous about something that has nothing to do with them. Especially when there is so much else going on. And the funniest part is that it wasn’t even true. It was just a comment that was taken the wrong way, and people are so pathetic that they grab onto it and make it into something its not. I mean this in the nicest way to everyone who has said harsh things about Penny and her team… Go outside and get a life!

  • AK
    Reply

    I admire this women for taking on an epic challenge. While it is unfortunate that the sharks had to lose their lives in order for her to accomplish it, I doubt that it was her intent for events to unfold as they did. We all agree environmental stewardship is important, but if your wife is being circled by sharks is there really a choice? Ask you wife/husband see how they feel about it.

  • Denver Weckwerth
    Reply

    Thx for information.

  • Jack
    Reply

    This is inexcusable. She should be charged, fined and possibly given jail time. A few people posting here saying “what would you do if sharks were circling you”…. I would get out of the water or use a shark shield POD device or not go in the water. This women and her team are horrible people and do not deserve anyone’s respect or congratulations. Disgusting. Totally stupid and ignorant. There are sharks in the ocean, everyone knows that, how the hell was she not prepared for that?

  • Ben
    Reply

    She did not kill the sharks, her team did. Secondly if you are in the middle of a swim, mid-ocean, that you had been training your whole life for, you would probably not just give it up over a couple sharks either. She was driven like only this kind of athlete can be. Was her crew just going to stand by a let something terrible happen? no. They should have handled it differently yes.

  • Beowulf
    Reply

    What has this world come too? So many people defending the sharks. What do you expect her to swim with the machete strap to her back and defend against sharks while her crew wait at the end point? Only I can do that.

  • Douw Potgieter
    Reply

    I’m a new diver. I shaw my first shark today. I was so scared before the time. when I Shaw it the most amazing feeling came over me. I hunt & fish. so I have no problem with kill. But killing for now reason so you can say you swim for what two days. Who cares!! Your selfish person with no respect for Gods work. I hope it was worth it as you had no reason to have done what you did. respect is urn not forced. you would have achieved more by respecting the ocean and the animals that live there and respect for your self. so what know? Is it two late or can you still help others not to make the same mistake you made and earn some real respect.

  • Mark
    Reply

    This is horrendous and she should jailed.

  • Jester McKinney
    Reply

    Okay I understand you were seeking success. But having a BBQ in the lions pit is not exactly the brightist thing to be doing. And I understand keeping her safe was number one priority and im glad no one was hurt but you guys invaded their home. Yes sharks may be top predator in the waters but also one of the most misunderstood creatures out their aswell. Like I said you were the invaders. You went in their home and a Slaughtered them. Now I’m sure if I had killed just one shark I’d be paying some serious consequences. Now at the lest im Hoping ur asses get some poaching charges or just flat out fined to the fullest to where u think twice about jumping n a swimming pool even.
    I mean it’s got to be illegal n som extint to just go kill sharks rite.

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