The Sedna Epic Expedition 2016 will begin in just four weeks time. Lead by geologist, geophysicist, conservationist and polar snorkeler Susan R. Eaton, this ambitious 11-day expedition will study the impacts of global warming and ocean change in the polar waters around Baffin Island, Nunavut.
Susan will be joined by a team of twelve incredibly talented ‘sea women’ comprised of ocean scientists, explorers, movie-makers, photographers, artists, educators, and scuba diving professionals. The team will be exploring the Arctic documenting changing ocean conditions, while also taking the time to act as role models for Inuit girls and young women.
Sedna: The Goddess of the Sea
The all-female Sedna Epic Expedition is named after the mythical Goddess of the Sea and mother to all marine animals, Sedna (???). The story of Sedna is that one day Sedna’s father threw her out of the kayak and into the frigid waters, determined once and for all to get rid of his troublesome teenage daughter.
Sedna gripped the gunnels of the kayak and pleaded for her very life. But, her father cut off her fingers and she slid beneath the waves. Sedna’s fingers floated downwards, each one magically transforming into different marine mammals, seals, walruses, and whales which are hunted by the Inuit.
The Sedna Expedition
This isn’t the first time Susan and a team of brave women have snorkeled in the Arctic. In 2014 the Sedna sea women embarked on a proof-of-concept expedition from Norther Labrador over to Western Greenland. This year the women will be diving and snorkeling around Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, immersing themselves in the issue of ocean change.
Many of us know something about climate change, however, few are familiar with the term ”ocean change”. In the Arctic, ocean change involves melting glaciers, disappearing sea ice, warming waters and ocean acidification.
The team will scout, document and record changes in the arctic waters. And, they’ll also undertake a Greenland shark tagging and DNA program, contributing scientific data to these little-know and rarely-seen deep-water sharks.
The project is as much about fostering cross-cultural dialogue as it is about delivering educational outreach. The Sedna team will visit Iqaluit, a remote Inuit community on Baffin Island, where they will be diving and bringing up fish and other marine critters to showcase in mobile aquariums “bringing the ocean to eye level” for Inuit youth, girls, parents, and Elders.
“Snorkeling in arctic waters represents a huge step for the Inuit, given the fact that many people don’t swim due to a lack of swimming pools in their remote communities. Unfortunately, death by drowning is one of the leading causes of fatalities in the Arctic,” said Eaton.
Throughout their journey, the Sedna sea women will mentor teenage Inuit girls involving them in all aspects of their ocean educational activities and introducing them to careers in ocean science and technology, conservation, fisheries management, and polar diving as a form of ecotourism. The Expedition will also serve to inspire women and girls to think big and to follow their dreams, no matter how crazy they may appear.
Warming up to the Northwest Passage
The 2016 expedition represents a warm up, of sorts, for the Sedna Epic Expedition’s ultimate goal: In the summers of 2017 and 2018, Team Sedna plans to mount a snorkel relay of the Northwest Passage—all 3,000 kilometers (1860 miles) of it—bringing global attention to disappearing sea ice in the Arctic.
En route, the sea women will visit ten Inuit and Inuvialuit communities situated along the Northwest Passage, delivering their innovative, hands-on ocean outreach program and empowering the next generation of indigenous female leaders to combat both societal and climate change.
The team will face formidable challenges as they snorkel the unforgiving and unpredictable arctic seas: hypothermia in -2 C waters, dynamically changing sea ice conditions, icebergs, gale force winds, stinging jellyfish, tusked walrus, predatory polar bears, pods of orcas, and the elusive Greenland shark.
Funding the expedition is no easy feat and Susan has set up a GoFundMe page in hopes of raising $12,000 CAD in time for the July 25 to August 4, 2016, expedition. If you would like to support the Sedna Expedition you can donate here. [Sedna]