COVER: Snorkelling with orcas and humpbacks during the winter herring run in Norway's northern fjords. Photo by Göran Ehlmé of Waterproof International is courtesy of Waterproof Cruises & Expeditions.
Before joining Ocean Geographic's dive & snorkel expedition to Spitzbergen, Greenland and Iceland in 2015, I visited the Fram Museum in Oslo, where I met this muskox...
Hello and thank you for visiting my GoFundMe page!
My name is Susan R. Eaton, and I'm a Canadian geoscientist, journalist and conservationist who explores the world's oceans—from Antarctica to the Arctic—in the snorkel zone, a unique land-sea-ice-air interface where charistmatic animals and snorkelers comingle.
Based in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada, I study the interplay of plate tectonics, oceans, glaciers, climate and life in polar regions.
Mounting a polar expedition is not for the faint of heart. One hundred years ago and today, raising funds to support individuals and vessel costs is still the single biggest hurdle that explorers face.
Please consider supporting a portion of my personal costs to lead the Sedna Epic Expedition's Women's Leadership Program and Winter Snorkel with orcas and humpbacks in Norway's northern fjords, November 19-December 2, 2019.
The Sedna Epic Expedition
In 2013, I founded the Sedna Epic Expedition, which is comprised of an incredibly talented and passionate team of women ocean scientists, explorers, movie-makers, photographers, artists, educators, Inuit advisors and team members, and polar divers and snorkelers. Sedna's sea women have hailed from Canada, the USA, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, England, Italy, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
The Sedna Epic’s sea women scout, document and record disappearing sea ice in the Arctic.
Everyone knows something about climate change. But, few people are familiar with the term "ocean change."
In the Arctic, ocean change involves melting glaciers, disappearing sea ice, warming waters, ocean acidification, and shifting sea life populations.
Since 2013, Sedna’s sea women have mounted three snorkel and dive expeditions to the Arctic, conducting ocean research. In consultation with Inuit advisors and team members, Sedna's sixty sea women (ranging in age from 16 to 65 years) have delivered their innovative ocean knowledge sharing and mobilization program to 1,000 Inuit youths, girls and Elders in Labrador, Nunavut and Greenland.
Sedna's sea women bring the ocean to eye level for Inuit (many of whom don't swim) via: Mobile touch aquariums that temporarily house sea critters; by running underwater robot-building camps for youth; and by leading Inuit girls and Elders on snorkel safaris to see the marine biodiversity in their own back yards, so to speak.
You can read more about Sedna's accomplishments, in the recent article I published:
But, Sedna's ocean work in the High Arctic is far from finished...
Building upon our successes, Sedna's sea women will return to the High Arctic in November 2019.
Women's Leadership Program and Winter Snorkel Expedition: Goals
At 69 degrees North, Tromsø lies some 350 kilometres above of the Arctic Circle and is Norway's gateway to the High Arctic.
The Sedna Epic's Team 2019 is comprised of 15 sea women—ages 21 to 75 years—who hail from Canada, the United States, England and Australia. This talented group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous ocean women includes underwater photographers and videographers, anthropologists, lawyers, marine biologists, geologists and veterinarians, polar guides, artists, performing artists, journalists, cultural advisors, undergraduate students and PhD candidates.
Prior to embarking on our live-aboard expedition vessel, the Sedna Epic will run a 2 ½ day women’s leadership program in Tromsø to discuss women’s growing representation in exploration and STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine) careers. Sedna's Indigenous team members will provide insights about the unique issues that Inuit women face in Canada's High Arctic.
During the leadership program we hope to connect with Sami women—much like we’ve connected with Inuit women and girls during Sedna’s expeditions—to better understand this part of the Arctic, its history, geography, and the culture and traditions of its Indigenous people.
We expect that 20 to 24 women will attend the women's leadership program, including: Team Sedna 2019 members; Sedna's advisors; Sami women; and women involved in advancing gender equality in the Arctic, including scientific, environmental, societal and policy issues.
Following the leadership program, Team Sedna will spend November 25-December 1 aboard the MV Freya, snorkelling with orcas and humpbacks during the winter herring run and undertaking scientific research which includes: the photographic, acoustic and genetic identification of orcas; ocean conditions (conductivity density and salinity); marine geology; micro-plastics and plankton analyses.
This seven-day expedition on our live-aboard vessel starts and finishes in Tromsø.
Winter Whales of the Norwegian Fjords
Every winter, snorkelers and wildlife enthusiasts alike witness to one of the great wildlife spectacles on the planet—orcas and humpbacks congregating in northern Norwegian fjords to feed on vast schools of herring.
The herring usually arrive in the northern fjords of Norway in early November. Hundreds of orcas congregate in the northern fjords, followed by humpbacks—and, this is what the excitement is all about…
Orcas and humpbacks follow the herring, creating bait balls as they hunt for food. Relying upon local experts and the science community, we stay in touch about the location of the whales, hoping to witness them while feeding on the fish.
Our on-board expert snorkel guides will inform you about the orcas’ behavior, including describing how to approach the whales in a safe and non-disturbing way. These experts will provide a ship-based educational lecture program about orca conservation and research and other interesting topics on local wildlife.
Our live-aboard vessel will enable Team Sedna to spend as much time as possible in remote fjords. Daylight hours are short at the end of November, and we'll experience twilight during part of the day.
Photo (below) of snorkelers in the zodiac in the twilight hours. Photo by Eirk Gronningsaeter and courtesy of Waterproof Cruises & Expeditions.
Sedna's expedition partner, Waterproof Cruises & Expeditions, is a woman-led and woman-owned company based in the Netherlands. Waterproof is world's leader in mounting polar scuba diving and snorkelling expeditions—from Antarctica to the High Arctic.
Since 2010, I've travelled on dive and snorkel expeditions with Waterproof—from Antarctica and South Georgia to Svalbard, Spitzbergen, Greenland and Iceland.
Waterproof presents (below) this incredible video, entitled "Polar Snorkeling with Orcas in Northern Norway," by Cristina Mittermeier.
Shot in December 2014, Mittermeier captures the magic and wonder of snorkelling in Norway with orcas and humpbacks during the winter herring run.
Training for the Norwegian Fjords
During the weekend of July 18-21, many members of Team Sedna 2019 will meet in Seattle, Washington.
We'll undertake team-building exercises and obtain diving & snorkelling certifications, including: Diving with Debris; Dry Suit usage; and the safety, maintenance and operation of Diver Propulsion Vehicles (aka "Scooters").
On Saturday, July 20, Team Sedna 2019 will celebrate PADI Women's Dive Day by hosting one of 1,000 events around the world which recognize the growing role that women play in scuba diving.
The Sedna Epic Expedition is delighted to partner with local dive operator Seattle Dive Tours and with Dive-Xtras, the company that manufactures our Diver Propulsion Vehicles.
The Sedna Epic Norway: My Personal Budget ($USD)
Via my GoFundMe campaign, I'm hoping to raise 75% of the funds that I personally require to lead the Sedna Epic's women's leadership program and winter snorkel expedition, November 19-December 2, 2019.
In my experience, it takes a community of generous patrons, supporters and donors to send a team of women divers and snorkelers to the High Arctic.
Thank you, for your past contributions towards my expedition expenses with the Sedna Epic!
Thank you, in advance, for your consideration of my current request for support.
Part A: Women's Leadership Program and Winter Snorkel Expedition, Tromsø, Norway (November 19-December 2, 2019)
$4,500 Live-Aboard Vessel, shared accommodation, meals incl. $1,900 Return Flights from Calgary, Canada, to Tromsø, Norway $750 Five nights hotel, shared accommodation, Tromsø & Oslo $375 Five days meals, Tromsø & Oslo $250 Taxis and Transfers $400 Excess Baggage $150 Air Evacuation Insurance Total Part A: $8,325
Part B: Team Sedna Technical Training and PADI Women's Dive Day, Seattle, WA (July 16-22, 2019)
$300 Gasoline for round-trip drive, Cochrane, AB, to Seattle, WA $200 Two nights hotel during round-trip drive, Cochrane, AB, to Seattle, WA $300 Four nights hotel, shared accommodation, Seattle, WA $350 Seven days, meals $175 Diver Propulsion Vehicle Certification $300 Four Snorkel Safaris in Puget Sound Total Part B: $1,625
TOTAL Parts A & B = $USD 10,050 ($CDN 13,150)
Susan pays: 25 % of TOTAL Parts A & B: $USD 2,510 ($CDN 3,290)
GoFundMe: 75 % of TOTAL Parts A & B: $USD 7,540 ($CDN 9,860)
My Story: Out of Adversity Comes Opportunity
Thirteen years ago, I suffered a serious scuba diving trauma that landed me in a hyperbaric chamber for three days, ending my 30-year diving career. Undaunted, my up-close-and-personal relationship with the ocean—which had included teaching scuba diving—didn’t end in the hyperbaric chamber…
Today, I explore the world’s oceans—from Antarctica to the Arctic—in the snorkel zone, a dynamic land-sea-ice-air interface where charismatic animals interact with snorkelers.
I've snorkeled with chatty belugas Hudson Bay, migrating salmon in Haida Gwaii, and with charging 1,400-pound leopard seals in Antarctica. During a snorkel expedition to witness the annual narwhal migration through the Northwest Passage, my co-explorers and I became trapped on a floating ice island, precipitating a 36-hour military air rescue off the northern coast of Baffin Island.
Since 2010, I've participated in four science-based ocean change expeditions to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Antarctica, Svalbard, Spitzbergen, Eastern Greenland and Iceland. Readers followed me virtually, as I studied the interplay of plate tectonics, glaciers, ocean change, climate and life at the bottom and top of the world.
A Fellow International (FI'11) of the Explorers Club, I've also also three successful Sedna Epic dive and snorkel expeditions to the Arctic—Labrador, Nunavut (Baffin Island), Western Greenland and Iceland—in the summers of 2014, 2016 and 2018.
In 2015, I was was named one of Canada’s top 100 modern-day explorers and trailblazers by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. A year later, I was named one of Canada's top female explorers, also by theRoyal Canadian Geographical Society. A member of the Explorers Club, I was named to the Explorers Club's (Canadian Chapter) 2014, 2015 and 2016 Honour Rolls.
An advocate of protecting Canada's wild spaces and the animals who call them home, I've volunteered in Canada's conservation sector for 30 years and have served on the board of directors of Nature Canada since 2015.
For updates on the Sedna Epic's women's leadership program and winter snorkel expedition, please follow my social media channels (Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube) which can be found via my website link below:
In closing, I thank you very much, for your time and consideration!
I appreciate donations of any size, which are accretive in their impacts.
Kindly consider sharing the link to my GoFundMe campaign with your friends, colleagues and family members, thereby extending my reach to potential supporters.
Who's checking out whom? Following in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton, I got up close and personal with King penguins on Salisbury Plain, South Georgia Island. Photo courtesy of Stephen Henshall, UK.