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From Miami to Maine, a paddle protest

July 18, 2007

margo.jpgSince May 7, 40-year-old Margo Pellegrino has paddled her 20-ft outrigger canoe from Miami up the East Coast, dodging speedboats and ferries, navigating arm-wrenching tidal currents, ducking storms while marveling at manatees, sharks and other sea life. In a few days, she’ll reach her destination — Camden, Maine, about 2,000 miles from where she began.
She says her two children, Julia, 2, and Billy, 5, inspired her. A resident of New Jersey, she is a mother, not a professional athlete, she says repeatedly at stops along the way in a journey intended to raise awareness on problems facing oceans from development to over-fishing and pollution.
While paddling on Sunday out of Maine’s Kennebunkport — where the parents of President George W. Bush maintain an oceanfront estate — Pellegrino said she spotted someone “instantly recognizable” on a speedboat: former President George H.W. Bush. “I couldn’t believe I didn’t have my camera on me for that one!,” she wrote in her blog.
Pellegrino uses a global positioning system to help her navigate and belongs to Surfrider Foundation, a global organization which is lending her support and arranging lodging for her along the way.
“I fear that my children won’t know an ocean that’s robust and full of life, which provides them with healthy food, a clean place to play, and somewhere to relax in the summer or find solace in the winter,” she wrote before the journey. “I worry they will only know toxic algae blooms, bleached coral and dead fish.”
Canoeing for hours on 30-mile to 50-mile stretches a day, while meeting occasional fishermen, has given her time to reflect, she says. She has sworn off buying or ordering Atlantic salmon “until all fish farming is done in a closed containment system where the fish can be protected, and the wastes can be treated before being discharged into our oceans. It will be wild salmon, sockeye, coho, or pink on my plate from now on,” she said in one recent blog post.

(By Jason Szep; Photo: courtesy of Margo Pellegrino at www.miami2maine.com)

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