11.22.2014

Inspiring Preservation of the Arctic with Arts & Science

Expedition - August 2015

ELYSIUM ARTISTS FOR THE ARCTIC is a project that combines the expertise of some of the world’s top scientists, artists, and explorers to create a multi-faceted interpretation of the Arctic. Artists for the Arctic hopes to inspire greater appreciation, understanding, and love for this critically important part of our planet, while drawing attention to the impacts of climate change. This icy ecosystem is regarded as one of the most enchanting wilderness regions of our planet, yet volatile and under severe threat from the warming of the world’s climate. This expedition promises to deliver the most awe-inspiring and stunning visual representation ever seen of the Arctic. The sights, sounds, and science captured by the Elysium Team will inspire ways to preserve and protect life at the top of the world through art, education, and outreach. 



THE MISSION: The Explorer Team’s mission is to encapsulate the splendor of the Arctic through the sights and sounds of this enthralling region, into one exquisite volume, a film and exhibitions around the world in eight major cities in 2016-2017. Elysium's science team will record and study the impacts of disappearing sea ice in the Arctic, inspiring, educating, and engaging the public about the wonders of the Arctic and its importance to our global climate. Through cross-cultural dialogue and educational outreach programs, Artists for the Arctic aims to exchange knowledge with Inuit groups and Elders about their home and the animals that live there. These first-hand accounts will be broadcast through a series of exhibitions worldwide, global social networks, and media channels, inspiring conservation for the diverse life of the Arctic as well as drawing attention to the impacts of climate change, ocean change, and disappearing sea ice. Only with your support will we be able to spread this critical message around the globe. You can have a direct impact on the way the world sees and understands the Arctic, and consequently on how we protect this precious polar region in the near future.

Elysium Artists for the Arctic is a carbon neutral expedition funded by Ocean Geographic Society.
WHAT WE NEED:  We need to maximize our time in the Arctic, and what we can accomplish will directly depend on how much money is raised in the next 2 months. Our goal for this campaign is to raise $350,000.  
We projected $80, 000 to bring in specialized scientific equipment: Open source ROVs with HD cameras, temperature and salinity instruments, mobile aquarium and scientist to bring in the video plankton recorder, laboratory and plankton sampling equipment. We'll need $85,000 to create and produce the Elysium limited edition book and movie, $25,000 for the Elysium Arctic Report,  $20,000 to produce the full soundtrack, and $150,000 to transport and curate exhibition for eight cities. 
Please consider donating to this one of a kind project.  Click on the Polar Bear below and you'll be redirected to the Indiegogo Campaign Site to learn more about the interesting rewards for getting involved:

9.30.2014

Pre-Expedition DrySuit Orders - Santi Headquarters

In late August, early September my husband and I took a short flight from Wroclaw, Poland (where we currently live) to the Tri-City up along the Baltic Sea.  We had always heard great things about the region however after living in Poland for a year and a half we somehow hadn't made it up there.  With Santi as one of the equipment sponsors for an upcoming expedition to the Arctic, and with their headquarters so close by in Gdynia, we decided to make our way north to personally place our dry suit orders.  Flying in on Saturday afternoon and leaving Monday evening we had roughly 48 hours to see the highlights of the three cities (Sopot, Gdansk, & Gdynia) and get fitted for our first drysuits. It was a hectic but exciting trip!
We had a hotel booked in Sopot since it is situated between Gdansk and Gdynia, however quickly realised it is the heart and soul of the Tri-City.  The salty air, long expanse of the sandy shore and wide array of seaside restaurants was a nice break from landlocked Wroclaw.  With Europe's longest boardwalk just outside of our hotel, I must admit it felt as if I was back at home along the Eastern Seaboard.  The three cities were definitely worth the visit and from what we learned there are some really cool wreck dives along the coast.  Since the Baltic isn't known for its warm temperatures we would first need some drysuits before getting involved in that.

Monday morning, once inside Santi's headquarters we were immediately impressed with both the hospitality and layout of the office/workshop.  The atmosphere was very welcoming and also visually intriguing.  Highly saturated diving images and graffiti art were splashed across the white walls while a large assortment of dive gear seemed to be calling out to us.  

The first order of business was the measurements and there were many.  This was our first time ordering dry suits and we were probably a bit too particular but they are really too expensive to have mistakes made.  It was an interesting and rather warm experience as we layered ourselves in to thermals, heated vests, under suits and then the outer shells.  Surely I would be warm in the Arctic but once everything was on I struggled to understand how exactly I was supposed to move; let alone dive and photograph in such an alien environment.  If you'd like to learn more about the upcoming expedition, Artists for the Arctic; click here:  http://www.elysiumepic.underwaterartists.com  


Where it all Happens ~ The Dry Suit Factory (above)












7.15.2014

Recap of the Digital Shootout in Little Cayman


Recently I wrote an article on an incredible week diving in Little Cayman with Backscatter   Underwater Video & Photo for their annual Digital Shootout Workshop & Competition which was published at Uwpmag.com.  If you have ever thought of attending one of these events read on! (To enlarge text click each section):



6.30.2014

Little Snippets from Little Cayman

With a trip to the States and Cayman Islands back to back, June has been quite a whirlwind.  Eight flights later, I am trying to recover from a bout of severe jet lag and a cold I caught somewhere over the Atlantic.  Hence the reason my writing has been seriously lacking.  Although, now that I've clarified my silence I feel comfortable moving forward and talking about the awesome week of diving I had in Little Cayman.

Completely the opposite of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman is a quiet, undeveloped retreat with much more of a relaxing vibe to it.  A short thirty minute flight and you have made it to your own deserted island.  Ten miles long, one mile wide, and a population of under two hundred one can understand why.  Before you read any further, I should mention if you've got a thing or two about small planes this might not be the place to plan your next trip; as the cockpit is wide open, the tires could use some air and well the weight of each piece of luggage is taken very seriously.  But if small planes are more your speed, likely you'll find the person sitting next to you is making the hop over to LC simply for some scuba diving.  Seriously though, with fifty dive sites around the island and a regulator bag on everyones lap this isn't too difficult to figure out.

So all the hooplah about Bloody Bay Wall is definitely right on and really the sheer size of it isn't understood until one has the courage to swim off the wall, and out into the blue.  Confirming your regulator is snug in your mouth, stop finning and pull a 180.  Let your eyes adjust for a moment and hold that regulator tightly.  Quite likely your jaw will have the urge to drop.  Ignore it.  Take a photo, make sure you got it and swim back to the safety of the wall.  Of course you can't see it but that wall descends to about 6000 feet.  Pretty amazing, huh? One last thing, do me a favour and email me that shot?!

While the wall was mighty impressive I'll admit I get weirded out by deep depths along reef walls.  I've probably read one too many stories about downward currents and have really got to stop reading I think.  This is definitely my problem! But I did dive the bloody wall several times and loved every second of it.  The gi-normous barrel sponges were my favourite and snuggling up inside one may have crossed my mind for a split second ;o)  But really up in the shallows, you've got the ambient light flickering about, the garguntuan loggerhead turtles barrelling across the reef, nurse sharks playing hide and seek with you and giant barracuda's that seem to appear out nowhere.  For me this is where it's at.

With shallow depths your air lasts so much longer, giving you the time to find what you're looking for and hopefully photograph it well.  In the shallows I came across nurse sharks, turtles, octopi, squid, giant barracuda's, stunning sea fans, and the peculiar but pretty trumpetfish.  Unfortunately it wasn't until my very last dive that I had a run in with some fire coral as I was trying to photograph a trumpetfish.  This was my first mishap underwater and hopefully my last.  Fire coral really has a bite to it and at first I wasn't sure what happened.  I just knew my hand was on fire.  Hence, the name fire coral.  In any case, I survived to share a few shots I snapped while diving Little Cayman.          



    




5.17.2014

Crete's Underwater Cathedral

I didn't have overly high expectations for Crete, either above or below the surface, which I think was a good thing as the island was full of some exciting surprises.  The terrain is rugged and mountainous with rocky to sandy shores that merge with an azure blue sea and the thought of the scuba diving has me yearning to go back to explore more of the island.  Only in town for four dives we tried to make the best of the short time we had on the north side of the island in Chania.  We explored three different underwater sites, Spotlights, Cathedral and an unnamed site near Stavros Bay where we enjoyed complete solitude on a quiet Sunday afternoon.  The image below is from our favourite site, Cathedral.



As I swam slowly out of the darkness into a massive underwater cathedral, my eyes readjusted and before me lay one of the most spectacular sights I had ever laid eyes upon.  I then made my way closer to the altar via the sandy and ascending aisle, where I knelt and prayed I'd be able to properly convey such magnificence to others.  

5.08.2014

Exploring Jardines de la Reina with Ocean Geographic

Recently I wrote an article on my amazing experience diving with Ocean Geographic in Gardens of the Queen and it was published at Uwpmag.com (Underwater Photography Magazine). Check it out! (click each section to enlarge text):