NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of kayakers put their strength to the test Saturday, paddling dozens of miles to send a strong message about the environment.

As CBS2’s Ilana Gold reported, the group hit the water at 9 a.m. and they had a long way to go, circling 30 miles around the island of Manhattan.

“(Gold: How much longer do you have to go? We’ll probably be off the water at 8 this evening,” said Dan Thaler.

Gold caught up with the kayakers on the Hudson River near Pier 40.

“(Gold: What is your favorite part so far? Coming down now and being able to see the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center,” said Sonya Pile, of Massachusetts.

But the day wasn’t all about the scenery. The kayakers are trying to raise awareness about keeping the waterfront clean.

Contamination is a longtime issue on the Hudson and East rivers. And there have been major efforts to clean up toxic chemicals and sewage. If the littering completely stops, the areas will be more enjoyable for recreation.

“When they see that the water’s getting cleaner, when they see some things that aren’t so clean they stop that so the more people who use the water, the better the river will be,” said Chuck Lesnick, with the Yonkers Rowing and Paddling Club.

The circumnavigational team has spread this message for the last 12 years. The annual event has become so popular, it brought in 200 kayakers this summer.

“We put this out on the Internet in April. By May, it was closed. We had too may people. We had never done 200 people before,” Lesnick said.

And this year, people actually traveled to Manhattan from other countries just to participate.

“(Gold: What is it like to be out here? It’s totally different perspective of New York and Manhattan,” said Mirko Lebl, of Brazil. “Totally worth it.”

Event organizers said they hope even more kayakers are able to make the trip next year.