Front to back, Isabelle Cote, Lauren Shea, Noelle Helder and Chantale Begin. Photo by Lindsey Hawkins Stigleman/University of British Columbia

Four female marine science educators are planning to row 5,000 kilometers across the Atlantic Ocean in a nonstop effort to raise half a million dollars for ocean conservation. 

The event was scheduled to begin on Tuesday and take from 40 to 55 days, weather dependant.  

The “Salty Science” crew, which spent the summer training in Florida, is taking part in the World’s Toughest Row-Atlantic 2023, with teams rowing without stopping and without support from San Sebastian de La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua. 

“We’re feeling ready,” said Salty Science member Lauren Shea, a master’s student in the University of British Columbia Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. “While there are a lot of nerves and buildup, we had a good time this summer training every day in Florida for two months. We have been prepping for nearly three years at this point.”  

Her crewmates are Isabelle Côté, professor of marine biology at Simon Fraser University, as well as Côté’s former doctoral student Chantale Bégin, now a professor at the University of South Florida, and Noelle Helder, Shea’s friend from undergraduate studies in Florida who is now working for the University of Alaska Fairbanks. 

“We are four women, four marine biologists, three academic generations, and we are very aware that we are acting as role models,” said Côté. “We want girls who are interested in marine biology to know that anything is possible.” 


Their personal belongings will be limited to one 40-liter dry bag, due to space. They will even be rowing on Christmas Day. 

Shea said their boat is self-righting, “so if it capsizes it will roll back over.”  

“Every team prepares to capsize at some point and you can deploy various tools to slow yourself down and decrease this risk, but really it comes down to preparing for different emergency scenarios and working together when issues occur,” she said.  

The team aims to raise $500,000 for marine science and conservation through three organizations. GreenWave is focused on sustainable seafood production. Shellback Expeditions support marine research, conservation and education in the eastern Caribbean. Bamfield Marine Science Centre plans to use its share to create a scholarship for students of underrepresented minorities to help train the next generation of marine conservationists. 

Follow the Salty Science team during the race via the tracking app by clicking on “Add Race” and typing “World’s Toughest Row-Atlantic 2023,” or via their Instagram account. For more information about this team, visit their website