Most folks, when they think of snorkeling, they envision pristine blue waters with reefs full of colorful fish. One group of 10 women, however, want to do something slightly — OK, completely — different: They aim to do a snorkel relay of the icy waters of the Northwest Passage in 2017 and 2018.
Canadian Susan Eaton, a geologist, geophysicist, journalist, conservationist and polar snorkeler based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is the leader of the Sedna Epic Expedition, a team of female ocean scientists, artists, educators, and polar divers and snorkelers from Canada, the USA and Mexico. They call themselves the “Sea Women.”
From July 25 to August 4, 2016, the team will conduct an 11-day expedition to snorkel and dive the waters off Baffin Island, Nunavut, to study the impacts of global warming in the Arctic.
The team plans to document the changes in arctic waters due to global warming. They also plan to tag and study the rarely seen Greenland shark, which is second only in size to the Great White shark.
Additionally, the team will visit Iqaluit, a native Inuit community on Baffin Island, to educate and inform Inuit youth, girls, parents and Elders. The Sea Women plan to show the Inuit — who generally are non-swimmers — the biodiversity below the water off their shore by leading them on “snorkel safaris” (in drysuits, of course). They also plan to mentor teenage Inuit girls and introduce them to all the varied ocean-related careers, from science to ecotourism.
This summer’s trip will function as something of a warm-up for the team’s ultimate goal: to mount a snorkel relay — using dive scooters — during the summers of 2017 and 2018 of the 3,000-kilometer-long Northwest Passage to bring attention to disappearing sea ice in the Arctic.
En route, the Sea Women will visit local native communities to empower the next generation of indigenous female leaders to learn about and work against climate change.
Before that, though, Eaton is conducting a crowdfunding campaign to raise half of her personal costs for this summer’s expedition off Baffin Island. Check out her GoFundMe page here.