Monday, January 12, 2009

Rowing Across the Pacific

Saw this last month, and it caught my eye.
An Italian adventurer who spent 10 months rowing more than 9,500 nautical miles across the Pacific has been rescued a mere 65 nautical miles short of his goal — Australia — after rough weather sapped him of his final shreds of energy. Alex Bellini, who began his voyage off Peru in February, contacted his wife Friday to say he was too exhausted to row his 25-foot boat any further, despite being nearly in sight of the eastern Australian town of Laurieton.
It reminds me tangentially of the Polynesian mariners, who were some of the greatest explorers in recent human history. They settled the vast Pacific Ocean, including the most remote islands in the world, Hawai'i and Easter Island, in long dugout canoes. This was done without modern technology, but rather, accumulated knowledge passed through the generations. A complex knowledge of the stars, ocean currents, animal migrations and weather patterns. Based on this, it's not a huge leap to guess that small groups of Polynesians landed in the Americas, and indeed it's a hypothesis :
From a single chicken bone recovered from the archaeological site of El Arenal-1, on the Arauco Peninsula, Chile, recent research of a radiocarbon date and an ancient DNA sequence indicates that Polynesian navigators may have reached the Americas at least 100 years before Europeans (who arrived after 1500 AD), introducing chickens to South America.
The need to explore, invent, and be creative, is a fundamental element of human culture, and has been going on a long time.

No comments: