The transition from solitary cabin life in Alaska to the DEMA (Diving Equipment and Marketing Association) Show in Orlando was a bit of a shock. I hadn’t been in the company of more than five people at once for a good while and all of the sudden I was standing in a room of hundreds.
I was in Florida for a long weekend to meet with Team Sedna. To meet with the scientists, explorers and artists who I will be traveling the Northwest Passage with over the coming three summers. I couldn’t wait to meet more of the expedition members and to see Lisa and Susan again.
The first person I met was Renata Rojas who has a talent for making everyone feel welcome. Renata has been diving since she was twelve and has dived all over the world. She has an MBA and works for a bank in New York. Renata also has a passion for the Titanic and won a spot on an expedition to take a Russian submersible down to the ship. Unfortunately the trip was canceled but Renata still hopes to visit the Titanic one day and I bet she will.
Next I met Becky Kagan Schott who is an Emmy award-winning underwater videographer. Becky has been diving for 19 years and is known for being able to get video in the most challenging environments including under ice in the Bering Sea!! I had seen some of her work before and was very excited to meet her in person. Check out her website here to see some of her incredible images!
I already felt like I knew Amanda from her fantastic facebook page which is always filled with amazing shots. Amanda Cotton is an underwater photographer. After meeting us in Florida she was off on an expedition in Norway with Amos Nachoum to photograph orcas and other wildlife. Amanda is also the founder of Water Women Inc which she created to help build confidence and leadership skills in young women.
I was very excited to meet Stephanie Gandulla who just joined the team and is an underwater archaeologist. Stephanie works in the Great Lakes with the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. She is a National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Association Scientific Diver and has great stories about wrecks in the Great Lakes.
It was wonderful to meet Beatrice Rivoira who is a Marine Biologist and scuba diving educator. Beatrice came all the way from Italy for the event! She has dived all over the world and always has had an interest in the polar regions so it seems only right that she would end up heading to the Northwest Passage. Beatrice co-authored a book called “BioDiving: Ambienti e organismi del Mediterraneo” and writes articles about marine biology to spread environmental education in the diving community.
After the DEMA show, Becky organized a chance for us to snorkel with the manatees! We were all up before dawn ready to head out from Crystal River. I was kind of nervous slipping into the water not entirely sure of what was underneath (our guide was smart enough to save all of his alligator and shark stories for when we were back in the boat!)
We were lucky to spot manatees almost immediately and even saw a cow and calf.
Just meeting the Sedna team was a great adventure. It is strange to think that the next time we see each other might be in the Arctic!
After a few wonderful days in Florida, it was back to Alaska for me. I could not be more excited for our Northwest Passage adventures. We have a lot to do to prepare for the expedition but hope to accomplish a great deal. To learn more check out our website! http://www.sednaepic.com/