The UAE’s Arabian Ocean Rowing Team has teamed up with the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Clean Seas campaign to help reduce marine litter and its negative impacts.
James Raley, Rai Tamagnini and Toby Gregory will row 5,000km unsupported across the Atlantic Ocean from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. The journey is expected to take 45 to 60 days and the team is expected to depart in December.
They will use the global publicity it will bring to raise awareness about environmental sustainability, reducing marine litter and protecting the oceans, focusing on single-use plastics.
Oceans are vitally crucial to our planet – they are earth’s largest biosphere and are home to up to 80 per cent of all life in the world. They generate 50 per cent of the oxygen we need; they absorb 25 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions and capture 90 per cent of the additional heat generated from those emissions.
The Arabian Ocean Rowing Team crew will be self-sufficient for their expedition, relying entirely on desalinated seawater to hydrate, solar energy to power batteries and electronics, and eating freeze-dried food while confined to a rowing boat which is only eight meters (26ft).
They will face waves up to 40ft and extended sleep deprivation, rowing two hours on, two hours off for 24 hours a day, whilst living in cramped conditions, pushing the crew to the very edge of their physical and mental limits.
Through initiatives such as the Team’s #BePartOfIt campaign and visiting schools and businesses across the UAE, the Arabian Ocean Rowing Team is raising awareness around ocean health and the need to build humanity’s relationship with the ocean.
The team will also be taking science experiments designed by the students on their crossing, so the students can understand first-hand how plastic pollution has impacted the ocean.
Toby Gregory, Arabian Ocean Rowing Team founder and project director, said, “It is a great honour and a privilege for the Arabian Ocean Rowing Team to be working alongside amazing and talented individuals within the Clean Seas initiative and campaign.”
He added: “The ocean and coastal ecosystems sit at the nexus of the triple planetary crisis, the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis and the pollution and waste crisis. The Clean Seas campaign has led the way in the global effort against marine litter and plastic pollution. Marine pollution is a complex problem, and there is no simple solution; everyone has a part to play”.
Through this physically demanding adventure, the Arabian Ocean Rowing Team’s crew aims to highlight that the ocean’s resistance and resilience are not infinite and that the seas cannot continue absorbing the effects of unsustainable human activities. In utilizing the upcoming row and sport more generally as an advocacy tool, the team illustrates the importance of ocean conservation by facing the plastic truth and finding solutions to end plastic pollution.