I was sitting on a plastic chair on the second floor of the Explorers Club in New York City when it happened.
The day had been filled to the brim with lectures, each one more fascinating than the last. It was my second time visiting the Explorers Club, only having become a member last spring, and I still couldn’t believe the incredible people in the room. Every person I met either held a record for the 7 summits, had jumped from space or sailed all of the seas using only the stars to navigate. I felt out of my league and wouldn’t have been at all surprised if a bouncer suddenly materialized to escort me off the premises.
“Wait. You’ve never been to the moon? Get out.”
Luckily that never happened and I was still in my seat for the second to last lecture given by Susan R. Eaton. The title of the talk was “Snorkeling Census of Northern Water Biology.”
I did not suspect that my life was about to change.
Susan stood up and began speaking. She spoke about a group of ten women scientists, explorers and divers that she led to the Arctic in 2014 on a “proof of concept expedition.” Their ultimate goal is to snorkel the entire Northwest Passage in order to study and create a platform to speak about climate change, learn from and build an educational outreach program with Inuit and Inuvialuit villages along the way and inspire women and girls to “think big.”
The Northwest Passage is 3,000 km long, occupied by polar bears, Greenland sharks, walruses, narwhals, pack ice and unbelievable history. The history of the incredibly tough and wise residents who figured out how to live in such extreme conditions, a history of Viking ships and wild polar expeditions, some of which still lie in the depths of the passage.
I sat on the edge of my seat for the entire talk, eyes wide and heart beating fast. What an idea! What purpose!
Then the last slide appeared:
They were looking for more expedition members.
At this point, I was so far forward in my chair, that I was in very real danger of falling off. My new friends, Steve and Paula Mae were sitting one row in front of me and looked back to say “that sounds right up your alley.” I nodded, trying my best to remain composed and not leap out of my seat and disrupt the entire event to speak with Susan.
An all women team in the Arctic? Working to study and speak about the future of the far north? Working with Inuit and Inuvialuit communities? Working to empower women and girls? It wasn’t just the adventure that caught a hold of me, it was the fact that everything the group is working towards is so important to me.
There was one more lecture immediately after Susan’s- I have no memory of what it was about- all I could think of was the Northwest Passage. After the last lecture, I went from room to crowded room of the Explorers Club looking for Susan, but had to leave to catch my train before I could find her.
I wrote down Susan’s name and the name of the expedition so that I wouldn’t forget. Later I looked it up and quickly found the team’s website: http://www.sednaepic.com/
The more I read about the expedition, the more fascinated I became and I finally sent Susan an e-mail asking if there was any space for someone with my experience on the expedition. I must be the luckiest girl in the world because there was and it looks like I am heading to Nunavut next summer with the most amazing group of women – technical divers, a biologist, an ecologist, a geoscientist, educators, a doctor, professional camera operators and photographers. I am so thrilled to be a part of this important project and cannot wait to learn everything I can.
I grew up snorkeling in New Hampshire’s lakes, but have never been diving before and will be getting my certification to prepare for the expedition- which should be a great adventure in itself!
Check back here and follow Sedna’s facebook page to watch as the adventure unfolds!