Mom's canoe trek making a splash for oceans - Margo Pellegrino and Nature Coast
Mom's canoe trek making a splash for oceans
By RICH SHOPES | The Tampa Tribune
Published: April 30, 2009
TAMPA - After two weeks in a canoe, Margo Pellegrino looked sunburned but refreshed. Not bad for a 41-year-old mom of two from New Jersey.
Pellegrino is paddling a 20-foot outrigger canoe from Fort Pierce on Florida's east coast to New Orleans to show support for environmental legislation.
She took a break from her 1,200-mile trek this morning to visit the Florida Aquarium and field reporters' questions.
Pellegrino said she has been buffeted by strong winds in the Gulf of Mexico but feels fine. Her most recent leg, a 25-mile journey Wednesday, took her from the Mote Marine Aquarium in Sarasota to Madeira Beach in Pinellas County.
"Our oceans are in such a state that I've just felt motivated to do this the last few years," said Pellegrino, who has a 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter at home in Medford Lakes, about 15 miles west of Philadelphia.
She stood at a podium flanked by a 2-foot high plastic soda bottle stuffed with "SOS messages" from Florida residents imploring legislators to Save Our Seas. Pellegrino is working with the National Resources Defense Council to generate support for federal legislation to protect oceans.
"Our oceans are near crisis. We can turn a blind eye or do something," she said. "We have a clean air act and a clean water act but we don't have a healthy oceans act."
Pellegrino is making her third such trip after journeys from Maine to Miami and New Jersey to Washington, D.C., in the past few years.
For each 20- to 30-mile leg, the slim, 5-foot-4 Pellegrino packs necessities, plus lunch: water, flashlights, sun screen, a locator beacon, a radio, a life preserver and a honey-and-peanut butter sandwich.
In the weeks before beginning the long journey, she paddled "every chance I could get" and jogged five miles a day, but she didn't adhere to a strict diet before or during the trip.
"Ben & Jerry's is really helpful," said Pellegrino. Smiling, she added that a salty margarita helps "replace electrolytes" after a grueling day.
On Friday, Pellegrino is set to travel from Madeira Beach to Holiday in Pasco County. She left Fort Pierce on April 15 and expects to reach New Orleans by May 21.
Read her daily blog entries at www.onearth.org/author/healthyoceanspaddle
Reporter Rich Shopes can be reached at (813) 259-7633.
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