Chirping Central? Mary Rose Ready To Embark On Three-Month Row For Endangered Birds

It's a 2,400-mile-plus journey to raise funds for bird conservation.

Mary Rose, Chirping Central
Mary Rose of Chirping Central will row from California to Hawaii to promote awareness about endangered birds.

Mary Rose is ready to carry out the plan she began making three years ago: a 90-day trip rowing across the ocean to help endangered birds.

“I? going out to finish what I started,?she said. “I put so much effort into it. The bird conservation thing is very, very strong for me ŠI wasn? going to give up on it.?lt;/span>

The trip is scheduled for May 16 and will take Rose from California to Hawaii, a distance of 2,400 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean (though Rose said with drifts and storms, it?l likely total closer to 3,000).

Rose said the quest to row the Pacific began 20 years ago in Australia when she brought home an Eclectus parrot. She admits that she didn? know much about how to care for the bird, so she began researching the parrot? natural environment and food. That research led the self-declared bookworm to more information about the dwindling numbers of several species of wild birds.

“The more I read, the more I was horrified about other species and what was happening to them,?she said. “I don? know why it resonates with me so strongly, but it does.?lt;/span>

Rose had been brainstorming, looking for ways she could help bring awareness and support to the birds?plight, when she attended a lecture in 2012 from ocean rower Roz Savage.

“At the end of her presentation, somebody asked her why she did it,?Rose said. “And one of the reasons she rowed was to raise awareness for all the plastic trash piles floating around the ocean. And the minute she said ?aise awareness?was the exact moment that the thought entered my head: ?ey, you could do this for birds.?

Rose had never rowed a boat before that day, but she didn? let that worry her: she started rowing lessons and began working with a personal trainer to condition for the journey. Long rows like the upcoming trip take an enormous amount of preparation?he conditions on a rowing machine at her home in Phoenix on the weekends, strength training with a personal trainer, consults with a sports psychologist using neurofeedback training and drives to San Diego on the weekends to get practice on her boat, which she dubbed Clipper. She commutes to California to take sea survival classes, navigation classes and other special skills courses. She has put 89,000 miles on her car in the space of a year and a half.

Once out on the ocean, Rose said the trip is more about long-term endurance than the short bursts of speed most competitive rowers are seeking. On shorter voyages, like the one she took along the California coast last year, she could spend 15 hours rowing and get several hours?sleep, punctuated by a few checks to make sure she wasn? drifting too far off-course. For a trip of this length, she?l row for three hours at a time, and rest for an hour and a half or so. Sleep deprivation becomes a factor in the quest, but with her rigorous schedule leading up to May 16 (Rose also juggles a full-time job to pay for the project), she believes she? had some practice with that, too.

Rose had planned the trip from California to Hawaii in 2014 but was forced to cancel when she learned she wouldn? have a support crew. Now, she has a private support yacht making the journey with her in case anything goes wrong. Even though Rose expects waves up to 40 feet, winds of 30 knots or more and three months?existence on freeze-dried food, she said she? more excited than nervous.

Rose has a goal of raising $1 million for bird conservation in the weeks surrounding the journey, but she? most concerned about raising awareness?ot of her physical prowess, but of the birds.

“You?e got cloning, but you can never bring an animal back [from extinction] and have it be the same wild animal,?she said. “It? all us doing it. We?e wiping out these species. To me, it became a thing of ?t? our responsibility to try to reverse this somehow.?

Rose? list of sponsored species are the Hawaiian crow, Mangrove finch, red-crowned Amazon parrot, red-fronted macaw, Hawaiian Petrel, Palkachupa Cotinga, Golden Eagle, Black-Winged starling, Whooping Crane, military macaw, and the Southern Ground Hornbill.

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