A 51-year-old French swimmer set off Tuesday, World Environment Day, on a record journey to swim across the Pacific Ocean, media reported.
If Ben Lecomte, now living in Texas, succeeds, he will become the first person to accomplish the feat of swimming nearly 9,000 km from the city of Choshi on Japan's central eastern coast to San Francisco on the U.S. West Coast.
Swimming for eight hours a day for six months straight, Lecomte, an associate director for sustainability services at a consulting firm, hopes that his efforts will raise people's awareness of climate change and environmental protection, American news outlet CNN reported.
Apart from the adventure, Lecomte and his crew will help conduct research for 12 scientific institutions, including NASA and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, CNN said.
A study on plastic pollution will also be conducted as he passes through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area with a large accumulation of plastic and debris in the North Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California.
"Pollution of the ocean has a big impact," Lecomte told the AFP in an interview prior to his journey.
"It's a problem we created and there is a very easy solution to start reversing it -- single-use plastics for example if we stop using them that will make a big change," he said.
Lecomte, who had swum across the Atlantic Ocean 20 years ago and prepared more than six years for his upcoming adventure, said that the biggest challenge of the journey will be psychological.
"The mental part is much more important than the physical. You have to make sure you always think about something positive," he told the AFP.
Throughout his journey, Lecomte and his crew are expected to collect some 1,000 water samples.
He also wears a shark repellent bracelet, a heart monitor and an armband that collects data about contaminants from Japan's Fukushima power plant explosion in 2011, according to "The Longest Swim," a website set up for the record journey.
A live tracker and a blog are available on the website for people to follow Lecomte's location, progress, and experiences.