(By Correne Coetzer) Susan Eaton, a Calgary-based geologist, geophysicist, journalist and Arctic and Antarctic snorkeler, is leading two all-female extreme snorkel relays to the Canadian Arctic, in 2014 and 2016. “The purpose of the proof of concept expedition (July 2014) and the larger Northwest Passage snorkel relay (summer 2016), is to raise awareness of disappearing sea ice and climate change in the Arctic and to engage Inuit women and girls in building sustainable communities, she told ExplorersWeb.
In July 2016, the all-female SEDNA Expedition will embark on a three-month journey, snorkeling over 3,000 kilometers through Arctic seas from Pond Inlet, Nunavut, to Inuvik, Northwest Territories. The 10 polar snorkelers — supported by two mother ships, each equipped with zodiac boats — will create world-wide awareness of rapidly disappearing sea ice, documenting the impacts of global warming on this fragile ecosystem and on the traditional way of life for the people of the North.
But first, in the summer of 2104, Team SEDNA will travel aboard the 116-foot MV Cape Race, from northern Labrador to Baffin Island and across the Davis Strait to Western Greenland, testing their ‘proof-of-concept’ by focusing on team-building and demonstrating that snorkelers — using diver propulsion vehicles — can successfully ‘go the distance’ through ice-infested waters.
ExplorersWeb: Where did the idea come from?
Susan: It was my idea, a kind of Eureka! moment.
I'm an extreme snorkeler with polar experience. After hearing about yet another sail boats traversing the Northwest Passage, I determined that extreme snorkelers, with zodiac and mother boat support, surely could swim the Northwest Passage - and what a metaphor for disappearing sea ice and climate change that would be...
ExplorersWeb: How will you engage Inuit women?
Susan: By including Inuit women in Team Sedna, translating all of our materials into Inuktituk, and reaching out to Inuit women and girls, through face-to-face meetings in Northern communities, over a two-year period (2014-2016).
ExplorersWeb: Why specifically those two years? 2014, 2016, not 2015?
Susan: 2014 - proof of concept expedition to Labrador, Baffin Island and Western Greenland
2015 - fundraising for the $1.5-million 2016 snorkel relay of the Northwest Passage Expedition and movie; team building exercises for Team Sedna; and capacity building with Inuit communities, including women and girls.
2016 - snorkel relay of Northwest Passage, 3,000 kilometers.
ExplorersWeb: Where will you start and end?
Susan: Start in Pond Inlet, on the northern tip of Baffin Island, Nunavut, and finish in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. We'll conduct citizen science and archaeology along the way, and visiting six Inuit communities along the way.
ExplorersWeb: What will be the tasks of the support boats?
Susan: Two support boats, each equipped with dual zodiacs' the snorkel relay teams are divided between the two boats, putting double the snorkelers in the water at the same time.
The configuration of two boats provides a safety feature and the most ice-worthy of the two boats will be the forward vessel, evaluating ice conditions.
One boat may be best suited to conducting scientific experiments.
ExplorersWeb: What will be the expected water temperature? How long will they be in the water during a relay leg?
Susan: Plus 2 degrees C to minus 2 degrees C, the temperature that sea water freezes at. In the water for 60 to 90 minutes, maximum, two to three times daily.
ExplorersWeb: How many women would you like to participate in the relay? Who may enroll and how? Costs?
Susan: Ten women in the snorkel relay, consisting of five women on each boat. Female scientists and archaeologists also welcome.
On the three-month Northwest Passage, there will be opportunities for female artists to join legs of the journey (painters, photographers, musicians).
Enrollment and Costs: we can discuss this when we speak. There are two separate expeditions in 2014 (three weeks long) and 2016 (three months long).
ExplorersWeb: What will the women wear?
Susan: Arctic-rated dry suits and they will use diver propulsion vehicles (DPVs), which will propel them through the water at between 3 to 6 kilometers per hour.
See Susan R. Eaton’s biography and contact details here (contact her if interested to join the all-female team).
According to Inuit legend, Sedna is the Goddess of the Sea, the mother of marine mammals. Often angry with Man, the Sea Woman releases her fury by creating violent storms and seas. For millennia, Inuit shamans have visited Sedna’s underwater lair, swimming down to comb her long, black tangled hair. Once calmed, Sedna quietens the seas and releases her seals and whales, providing a bountiful hunt for the Inuit. Sedna will join the Northwest Passage snorkel relay — one day, she'll take the form of a narwhal; the next day, she'll be a bowhead whale or a ringed seal.
#polar #oceans #science #susaneaton #nortwestpassagesnorkelrelay
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