Cynthia Aguilar “not afraid of sharks” on her record-breaking solo paddleboard crossing of the Florida Straits

Posted on June 17, 2011
Written by: Shark Savers

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Press Release

For Immediate Release

(June 17, 2011) Yesterday afternoon, at approximately 12:45PM, Cynthia Aguilar, Shark Savers’ “ocean ambassador”, landed in Key West, Florida completing her quest to be the first person to cross the Florida Straits on a prone paddle board. Aguilar covered 103 miles in approximately 29.5 hours to cross the Straits.

Shark Savers, an international shark conservation organization, joined Aguilar for the crossing as a way to call attention to the ocean and its sharks. On the way over to the drop-off point near Cuba, Aguilar’s support boat crew spotted a bait ball (a ball of bait fish) surrounded by sharks. Rather than fearing their presence the crew took it all in stride as a good sign of a healthy ocean ecosystem.
“I’m not scared of sharks,”said Aguilar. “People ask me that question all the time. The ocean is my home and it’s theirs too.” Aguilar was a South Beach Ocean Life Guard for nine years before she became known for her extreme distance, non-stop paddleboard crossings to raise money and awareness for charity.

In 2007 she broke the record paddling solo from Bimini Cat Cay in the Bahamas across the Bermuda Triangle to Dania Beach, Florida; a total of 58 miles in support of AIDS research.

Now, Aguilar adds the Florida Straits to her list of record-breaking accomplishments. This was Aguilar’s second attempt at a Florida Straits crossing. In September 2010, Cynthia’s first attempt ended short. Strong eddy currents off the shores of Cuba consistently pulled Cynthia and her small paddleboard east and south. After battling the currents for 17 hours straight, she encountered a patch of jellyfish where she suffered multiple stings on her arms and legs, forcing her to end the initial attempt.

Representing Shark Savers on the crew was Samantha Whitcraft, Conservation Biologist and Program Manager for the organization. “Being out on the Florida Straits as part of Cynthia’s support team was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Cynthia’s love of the ocean was apparent in every stroke she took out there; she is a friend and an inspiration!”, said Whitcraft. “Shark Savers is honored to sponsor a true ocean athlete who values sharks.”

Aguilar’s efforts are in conjunction with her organization, Keep Paddlin. Kendra Silvera, Keep Paddlin’s Board Chairperson and Director/Producer of “Dream Big, a forthcoming documentary film about Aguilar and her paddle voyages, said, “Part of Keep Paddlin’s mission is to bring awareness to the oceans, including sharks. This crossing was an opportunity to show the world that sharks are not to be feared; they are to be loved in their natural environment. We will always ‘keep paddling’ to save sharks with Shark Savers.”

Contact: Samantha Whitcraft, Shark Savers
Tel: 786-897-2201   E-mail: samantha.whitcraft@sharksavers.org

Shark Savers is a non-profit organization that campaigns to curb demand for shark fin soup, create safe havens for sharks, and advocate on the behalf of sharks. Shark Savers leverages the power of the diving and conservation communities to save sharks so that they may continue their 400 million year contribution toward the healthy balance of ocean ecosystems. www.sharksavers.org.

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