UAE team to row across Atlantic to highlight need to protect world's oceans

Arabian Ocean Rowing Team begins 5,000km challenge in December to highlight the consequences of marine pollution

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A trio of intrepid UAE residents are ready to row across the Atlantic Ocean to help raise awareness of the global fight against marine pollution.

James Raley, Rai Tamagnini and Toby Gregory ― together known as the Arabian Ocean Rowing Team ― in December plan to embark on an oar-inspiring 5,000 kilometre journey from La Gomera, off the coast of Africa, to English Harbour in Antigua.

The team will have to face 40-foot waves and extended sleep deprivation during the gruelling challenge in which they will row for 12 hours a day, in a two-hours-on, two-hours-off pattern.

It is expected the mission will take between 45 and 60 days to complete.

But they will have a worthy cause in mind to inspire them to reach their goal.

Team join UN mission to protect the planet

The group have partnered with the UN Environment Programme's Clean Seas campaign, which works with individuals and businesses to reduce marine litter and its negative effects on the environment.

“It is a great honour and a privilege for the Arabian Ocean Rowing Team to be working alongside amazing and talented individuals in the Clean Seas initiative and campaign,' said Mr Gregory, Arabian Ocean Rowing Team founder and project director.

"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; every one of us has a part to play.”

The group of rowers are going to great lengths to demonstrate the importance of ocean conservation.

Taking on gruelling challenge

The Arabian Ocean Rowing Team has announced its plan to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Photo: The Arabian Ocean Rowing Team

They will be completely unsupported during the expedition and will have to rely entirely on desalinated seawater to hydrate, solar energy to power batteries and electronics, and will have to eat frozen and dried food.

They will be confined to a rowing boat, which is only eight metres long ― shorter than the length of two cars.

The team hope their efforts will shine a light on the vital need to take care of the world's oceans, which generate 50 per cent of the oxygen we need and absorb 25 per cent of all carbon emissions.

Oceans are known as the lungs of the Earth, but are coming under increasing pressure from debris endangering ecosystems and biodiversity which is critical to the health of the planet.

The main causes of such pollution are waste being dumped into the waters and littering.

Earlier this month Abu Dhabi introduced a ban on single-use plastics to help protect the environment.

Estimates suggest that about 13 million tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year.

A recent study by Environment Agency Abu Dhabi showed plastic was found in 80 per cent of dead hawksbill turtles in Abu Dhabi.

Turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, which can cause blockages in their digestive tract. But the problem is not limited to the sea.

The rowing team will visit schools and businesses in the UAE to educate and change minds as part of their #BePartOfIt campaign.

Updated: June 24, 2022, 1:11 PM