Published on
May 29, 2024

A 2,000-mile row around Great Britain to help protect our oceans

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 min read
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A 2,000-mile row around Great Britain to help protect our oceans

The ocean covers over 70% of our planet's surface. It plays a critical role in regulating the climate, absorbing carbon dioxide, providing food and income for billions of people, and hosting incredible biodiversity. Yet human activities like pollution, over-fishing, coastal development, and climate change are degrading ocean ecosystems at an alarming rate.

At NatureMetrics, we believe reversing this trend is an urgent priority but also an opportunity to evaluate how we can build thriving economies in harmony with nature. That's why we are proud to sponsor the GB Row Challenge again in 2024, supporting an audacious endeavor that combines adventure, citizen science, and storytelling to inspire action for ocean conservation.

The GB Row Challenge is billed as the "world's toughest rowing race." It requires teams to row 2,000 grueling miles around the entire coastline of Great Britain in a 10-meter rowboat, navigating complex tides, shipping lanes, and unpredictable weather without any motor power or support boats.

On June 9th, the six-woman crew of the Sea Change Row team will depart from Tower Bridge in London, beginning a daunting month-long journey that will take them clockwise past Land's End, up through the Irish Sea, around the northern tip of Scotland, down the North Sea, and back to the Thames Estuary.

The crew consists of environmental entrepreneurs Dr Kat Bruce (skipper & Founder of NatureMetrics) & Chrissy Durkin; net-zero consultant Aoife Luscombe; cultural heritage specialist Jess Mc Iver; finance & ESG director, Lorena Nichols; and ecologist Madeline Craig. Laura Fantuzzi, an original crew member and marine scientist analysing the data collected, will provide land-based support.

Rowing in continuous two-hour shifts, they will cross major bodies of water like the English Channel, Celtic Sea, and North Atlantic while braving some of the planet's most powerful tidal streams. Their goal? To not only complete this extreme test of endurance and skill, but also to capture vital scientific evidence about the state of our British coasts as they go. And if they’re lucky - set a new world record as the fastest team of six to circumnavigate Great Britain.

Sampling the State of Our Seas

While the physical and mental challenge is immense, the crew has an important scientific mission: to collect environmental data that will provide an unprecedented look at the health of British coastal waters. Using specialized sampling equipment, they will gather:

  • eDNA samples to assess marine biodiversity by detecting genetic material shed by organisms into the water
  • Water filter samples to quantify levels of microplastics pollution
  • Recordings of underwater sounds from both natural sources and human activities like shipping
  • Continuous sea surface temperature readings

This data, combined with samples from crews in 2022 and 2023, will enable scientists at the University of Portsmouth to map ocean pollution, biodiversity, and noise levels around the entire UK coastline over multiple years. This comprehensive picture can reveal concerning trends but also highlight areas of success that can guide future conservation efforts.

"Ocean pollution is one of the biggest challenges of our generation," said Dr. Fay Couceiro, an expert in biogeochemistry and environmental pollution. "The data collected by GB Row Challenge will greatly enhance our understanding of conditions in the seas around the UK."

Storytelling for Change

In addition to the data collection, the Sea Change Row team aims to use their incredible journey to share stories of people and organizations working towards a healthy and regenerative ocean economy.

" While our current systems are headed down an unsustainable path, I know we have the ability to change course," said Kat Bruce, founder of NatureMetrics.

" There are already proven solutions to safeguard nature while fostering economic growth, and we're seeing them implemented along British coasts. By highlighting these projects as we row, we aim to motivate change and inspire action."

The crew will share videos, photos, and written stories highlighting initiatives like sustainable fishing, coastal restoration projects, and businesses embracing circularity and renewable materials. By elevating these examples, they hope to show that a future of economic prosperity in balance with a healthy ocean is not just possible but underway.

" We all have the power to reduce the pressures on the ocean and enable sustainable business models to emerge. However, the time to act is now if we want to secure a better future " urged Bruce.  

NatureMetrics is excited to support the Sea Change Row team on their boundary-pushing voyage. By combining ocean adventure with cutting-edge citizen science and inspirational storytelling, this mission helps to raise awareness of the role we all have to play in charting a new course towards a regenerative ocean economy.

Follow along at @seachangerow on Youtube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook starting June 9th as this remarkable crew of women takes on one of the world's most extreme physical challenges for the sake of our ocean planet. We'll be sharing their progress, scientific findings, and powerful stories every stroke of the way.

You can view the official launch video here: WHAT IS SEA CHANGE? on Vimeo

Watch the team set off at Tower Bridge

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