By MICHAEL BRUXO
A 6,500km bicycle trip from Germany to the Algarve as a protest against the killing of sharks in some parts of the world was successfully completed by German diving instructor Lucas Schmitz.
The adventure, named ‘Cycle4sharks’, was based on the premise that for every euro donated Lucas would travel 2km. The target was to reach €2,000 worth of donations and trek 4,000km but the amount of money offered led the animal protector to cycle more than expected, and he travelled more than 6,000km in six weeks.
The total funds were directed to Project Aware, which describes itself as a “growing movement of scuba divers protecting the ocean – one dive at a time”.
Lucas told the Algarve Resident why he decided to embark on this journey.
“I have been a diving instructor for 10 years and, during that time, I have noticed a big difference in terms of the ocean’s bio-diversity.”
Given that 2013 is the International Year of Sharks, Lucas decided to organise ‘Cycle4sharks’ in order to raise awareness about the endangerment of these fish.
“Most people don’t know how bad the situation really is. Portugal, Spain and France together kill more sharks (through fishing) than any other country in the world,” he said, justifying his statement with his own personal research and his interaction with specialists on the subject. He also added that this was partly why he decided to travel through these countries.
The German diving instructor, who has been living in the Algarve for the past two years, trained for two months in order to prepare for the marathon he started in July.
Throughout his journey, however, fatigue became one of his main obstacles.
“It was tougher at the beginning as my legs really ached,” he confessed.
But this did not stop him. Despite having to rely on his tent or the online website couchsurfing to find accommodation for a well-deserved rest, Lucas kept on moving and concluded what he considers to be “an experience which he can cherish for the rest of his life” at the DiveXperience scuba diving centre in Carvoeiro on August 18.
Along the way, he encountered and socialised with numerous people who provided support and donations for his cause.
Looking to the future, he admitted he would like to repeat the experience soon and make it an annual event, however, not to the extent or proportion of “Cycle4sharks”. “It is hard to find the time to take on such a big challenge,” he said.
In conclusion, Lucas left a warning: “Most people see sharks as monsters who want to eat humans. This is not true. These fish are extremely important to the balance of the ocean’s eco-system but are now at risk of extinction due to mankind’s actions.”