Fourteen rowing teams departed Monterey Harbor (in central California) this week for a rowing competition connecting the US West Coast with the Hawaiian Islands.
Over the next 30 to 45 days, participants in the “World’s Toughest Row” will traverse a course that will take them through two of the world’s great marine protected areas — Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
As rowing teams departed the Monterey Bay sanctuary — the “Serengeti of the Sea” — they were accompanied by several humpback whales, huge pods of northern right whale dolphins, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and flocks of shearwaters from New Zealand and Argentina.
The rowers will spend June — National Ocean Month — on the Pacific Ocean, rowing to the Hawaiian Islands and finishing their journey in Hanalei Bay, Kaua’i, in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 620,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 15 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.