Outdoors

A patch of trash in the Pacific is three times the size of France. A UW grad will row through it

FILE - This file 2008 photo provided by NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center shows debris in Hanauma Bay, Hawaii. A new study estimates nearly 270,000 tons of plastic is floating in the world's oceans. That's enough to fill more than 38,500 garbage trucks if each truck carries 7 tons of plastic. The figure appears in a study published Dec. 10, 2014, in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. Researchers say the plastic is broken up into more than 5 trillion pieces.
FILE - This file 2008 photo provided by NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center shows debris in Hanauma Bay, Hawaii. A new study estimates nearly 270,000 tons of plastic is floating in the world's oceans. That's enough to fill more than 38,500 garbage trucks if each truck carries 7 tons of plastic. The figure appears in a study published Dec. 10, 2014, in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. Researchers say the plastic is broken up into more than 5 trillion pieces. AP File

University of Washington graduate Eliza Dawson says she wants to "motivate environmental political action."

So, in June, the 22-year-old from Port Townsend, will load into a small boat with three others and row 2,400 miles from Monterey, California, to Honolulu.

Dawson, a 2017 NCAA rowing champ, recently completed her Climate Science degree and hopes her adventure will raise money to combat climate change and plastic pollution. Her team also aims to break the world record for the trip: 50 days.

Dawson_Eliza.jpeg
University of Washington graduate Eliza Dawson says she wants to "motivate environmental political action. So, in June, the 22-year-old from Port Townsend, will load into a small boat and row 2,400 miles from Monterrey, California, to Honolulu. University of Washington Courtesy

The team plans to row in 2-hour shifts for the entire trip. "While this is a huge endeavor and a huge experience, and a big challenge to overtake, the challenges facing our environment are even bigger," Dawson said to KING-TV. "I'm very excited to take on this adventure."

The group plans to row through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of ocean trash that is three times the size of France.

Dawson's crewmates include leadership consultant and British leadership adviser Anna Kirkin, former Brazilian-team rower Mariana Cadore and British accountant Emma Rogers.

"We want to raise awareness of pollution and environmental degradation," Kirkin said in a team video.

Cadore added, "I believe we have to take loving action right now."

The team is raising money for the trip. Dawson is accepting donations on her gofundme.com page where, as of Friday morning, she'd raised $4,600 of her $20,000 goal.

Should Dawson's team set the world record, they will be the latest Western Washington team to make ocean rowing history. In 2006, four University of Puget Sound graduates were recognized by Guinness World Records for rowing 3,100 nautical miles from New York to England in record time: 71 days, 3 hours, 22 minutes.

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497
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