Thursday, December 22, 2011

Team Gallagher Rowing to Build World's Biggest Coral Reef by Rob Hamill

Bad weather has blown Team Gallagher back over the exact same spot this morning for the third time. Clearly they aren't just rowing across the Tasman for fun, they're also raising money to help build the world's biggest man made coral reef in Borneo.

Coral Reefs cover 1% of the ocean yet provide a home for 25% of all marine species. Unfortunately, half of the coral reefs globally have vanished or are in a state of serious decline.

Team Gallagher are generating funds to build an artificial reef off the northern coast of Borneo, just east of Semporna. The reef, while providing a home and hunting ground for a vast diversity of marine species, will also function as an educational tool, one enabled by art and the community.

The reef will be shaped into an ever growing nautilus and will be built out of eco-friendly ceramic modules that provide a perfect substrate for the coral to grow. To start, clippings of sustainably grown coral will be planted onto the modules by local coral gardeners, with the help of the surrounding community and visiting divers.

"The Tasman row reaffirms the our commitment to raise awareness of our oceans plight," says Team Gallagher rower James Blake. "The enormity of the row and the vastness of this stretch of water reminds me how significant our oceans are to our very existence."

Team Gallagher Director and trans Atlantic rower Rob Hamill believes the Coral Garden Project has the potential to become a global movement, "This will raise awareness of the issue of dynamite fishing and the related destruction of coral reefs in developing countries and in the long term will make a difference to the global fishery."

The quartet made up of Nigel Cherrie (35), James Blake (24), Andrew McCowan (28) and Berka have been battling brutal weather in the Tasman since leaving Sydney on November 27. They have spent approximately ten of the 26 days at sea so far under sea anchor, causing them to drift much further north than planned.

Team Gallagher aim to be the first Kiwi team to row from Sydney to Auckland using the iconic harbour bridges as their start and finish lines. The challenge will require them to complete some half a million strokes over 1,400 nautical miles (2500km). Currently they are approximately 1000km West of Cape Reinga. Arrival into Auckland is now expected in the next 20 to 30 days.

Want to support this great cause? Visit our donations page here and donate to the Coral Garden Project to help save this unique marine environment.

The team's progress is mapped using satellite positioning systems on And don't you wish you could join them. I do!

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