South Africans Robyn Wolff and Davey du Plessis are about to embark on an epic journey across the Atlantic ocean in a pedal-powered boat. The mother-son team will depart from Cape Town for Rio de Janeiro at the end of November on a journey expected to span more than 4,000 miles. Called Project Atlantic, the project is designed to draw attention to the sixth mass extinction, which scientists say is the collective result of human activity. The pair will be traveling in a vessel that has no sails or motor, and which will be unsupported by any other watercraft.
The Holocene Extinction refers to the ongoing event that began about 13,000 years ago when early humans hunted megafauna like the woolly mammoth and cave lion to extinction. Due to habitat destruction and over-hunting, over 875 documented extinctions have occurred since 1500. Many more were likely never recorded. “We as a global society need to urgently and radically reassess our anthropocentric views, working towards eliminating our destructive, cruel and exploitative impacts on the Natural World,” says the Atlantic Project team. The cross-Atlantic expedition is working in partnership with Extinction Six, an organization founded by du Plessis to raise awareness of the accelerating mass death of species.
Davey du Plessis is a seasoned adventurer, having completed a cycling trip from Cairo to Ballito, South Africa in 2011. In 2012, he attempted a journey that would trace the Amazon River from its source in the Andes to the Pacific Coast of Brazil. Although de Plessis was almost killed during the expedition, he is undeterred from embarking on further adventures.
The boat used by the team was designed and built by local boat builder Tertius du Plessis. If the Atlantic Project is successfully completed, it will be the first team of two to cross the South Atlantic under human power and only the third attempt at crossing the Atlantic in a pedal-powered boat. Its impressive physical achievements notwithstanding, the Project’s ultimate goal is to raise awareness of mass extinction in hopes of rallying some sort of solution.
Images via Extinction Six