With the Team Sedna 2014 proof of concept expedition now complete, I thought I’d share some highlights on what we achieved.
For me, the biggest strength was team work. I was proud to be a part of a strong team of ten women, who were from four different countries and who’d not met as a group before the trip. We functioned in unison with a strong team bond to make the expedition happen. Everyone brought different skills, expectations and apprehensions with them, and left the trip with sisters in exploration ready for the next adventure. The early days of team building in Nain assisted this process. As assistant expedition leader, I used some techniques from participatory learning programs I’ve been trained in, mainly the Art of Hosting and the International Leadership Training program by MS Action Aid Denmark, to help facilitate a strong group bond. With the assistance of an expert in psychology, Tanis Angrove I was able to pull together a few short workshops based on the ILTS program to help everyone feel a part of the group. I’m looking forward to being able to run this program on future expeditions, an application of these skills that I never considered before this trip.
Our second strength was safety. We safely carried out the proof of concept with a bored doctor on board and no safety issues, no major medical issues. We put safety first and the initial days on the water revolved around this, training us up with how to effectively ensure that every snorkeler and person on board was safe. It took a few runs to get the flow of how to safely kit up and get into and out of the water, along with safely snorkeling.
Distances per leg of snorkeling ranged between 4-17km depending on number of snorkelers (5-10). We were fortunate with the weather in the Arctic. It meant that most of our days on the ocean were sunny and clear, limited ice and water of a sea state 1-2. So we learned that we can snorkel distances in relay fashion, albeit in ideal conditions.
A third highlight for me was the community outreach in Nain and New Foundland, where we spoke with approximately 50 16 & 17 year old girls, answering questions about exploration and the sea women of Sedna through the WISE program. In Nain, Labrador we undertook two days of community outreach, diving in local waters to collect species to show the community in mobile touch tank aquariums. It was such a joy to be a part of the program run by team member Ruby Banwait of the Vancouver Aquarium. The tanks were filled with local sea life for the community to see and hold, and Remotely Operated Vehicles operated by Erika Bergman, were being driven by the children as they explored under water. Ocean conservation and understanding was real and felt tactile and amazing in those two days.
Unfortunately we were forced to change routes due to sea ice conditions around Baffin Island, where two of our communities we hoped to repeat the science were based. So after a few days we re routed for Greenland, where we did not undertake community outreach. The challenge with this was the distance that we crossed and had to spend crossing on the boat, meaning less time in the water and no time ashore with the communities. A reminder that planning, timing and ice are two of many key factors that will influence how future expeditions like this can operate.