07/15/2012 12:33 EDT | Updated 09/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Arctic rowers embark on Bering Strait paddle

A group of Americans are embarking on a row across the Bering Strait, travelling between the Northwest Territories and Russia.

Four men plan to leave Inuvik, N.W.T., on Sunday, and spend 30 days rowing 2,000 kilometres east, around Alaska and to Provideniya, Russia.

If they make it, they will become the first people to complete the voyage by rowboat.

Their boat, dubbed the Arctic Rower, is about eight-metres-long.

The athletes have experience rowing long distances.

In 2009, Paul Ridley, who hails from New York, completed a solo voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Also in a rowboat, the 5,600 kilometre journey took him 87 days.

“It's quite a lot of effort. Two hours on, two hours off rowing, for two guys at a time. When you're not rowing, you're cooking, sleeping, sending emails, and just taking care of yourself,” said Ridley.

The trip is both an adventure and a scientific study. Along the way, they plan to collect samples of plankton for scientific research.

“The notion is that where there's plankton there will one day be whales, and we'd like to help scientists determine where there will one day be whales, with the newly unfrozen portions of the arctic,” said rower Neal Meuller.