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Erden Eruç, MN’04

Erden Eruç has just completed a human-powered circumnavigation, traveling around the globe by rowboat, sea kayak, dugout canoe, bicycle, and on foot. During his journey, which took five years and 11 days to complete, Eruç set a new Guinness World Record, crossing the Pacific Ocean—from his launch point at Bodega Bay, California, to Papua New Guinea—in 312 days, the longest time at sea for a single-handed ocean rower. On the crossing, he documented a Laughing gull (Larus Atricilla) 5,556 kilometers offshore from its usual habitat on the west coast of Mexico.

The circumnavigation presented a host of challenges. Eruç was set back by La Niña conditions, which prevailed two years in a row on the Pacific; he dodged Cyclone Olga and saltwater crocodiles while paddling along Cape York; and avoided pirates as he approached Africa. He also met the kindness of strangers on many difficult stretches: Philippine fishermen on the Pacific, coastal villagers in Papua New Guinea and random good Samaritan who appeared in his path around Australia, across Africa, and in the Americas.

By the time that Eruç returned to Bodega Bay on July 21, 2012, he had covered a distance of 66,299 kilometers, passing through 12 pairs of antipodes en route. He became the first person to have rowed three major oceans and the first to row across the Indian Ocean from Australia to Africa. He accumulated a total of 876 days on his rowboat, 153 days of which were spent rowing a 10,121 kilometers from Namibia to Venezuela, the longest both in time and distance on the Atlantic Ocean. He also climbed Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia and Kilimanjaro in Africa.

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Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste