It is tough to add new and exciting things to an ocean blog when you don’t see the ocean very often. Sure I could write about things going on in ocean conservation, which was my original intent, but there are so many people out there more knowledgeable about these topics that I couldn’t never do them justice. Many times I’ve wanted to rant about some of the terrible things going on (e.g. Western Australia shark cull) or the helplessness I often feel when reading about overfishing and plastic pollution. But then opportunities emerge that are so unique that I want to do more research and share the results with anyone who will listen. This new opportunity is Mission 31 (www.mission-31.com) and I have secured two Skype sessions with the Aquarius aquanauts through their Skype in the Classroom initiative. I, along with two lucky schools, have a front row seat to witness history and the magic of technology.
As I type, Mission 31 is about to splash down in 11 days, 05 hours and 14 minutes. A group of Aquanauts, led by Fabien Cousteau, grandson of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, son of Jean-Michel Cousteau, will live and work in the Aquarius research lab over the next month. Cousteau will stay in Aquarius for 31 days straight making this the longest, deepest saturation dive to date. The expedition pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of his grandfather’s 30 day mission on Conshelf Two located in the Red Sea and will bring the world’s attention to ocean conservation issues, enable valuable research to takes place and allow people from around the world to peek under the waves at this truly special research lab.
So how does a Prairie girl with no marine biology training get involved in this you ask? By asking, of course. Through the great social network of Twitter, I connected with the on-land support team to ask if Fabien Cousteau would be doing interviews through Skype and if so, would he consider doing one with a school in Winnipeg. I firmly believe that the worst thing that can happen when you throw questions like that out into the universe is that you will be ignored or turned down. Anything else is a bonus. I knew it wasn’t an unreasonable request because they wanted to create connections all around the world but I figured they may want higher profile locations to connect with. In my request I pleaded my case for the Prairies; that all the cool ocean activities happened on the coasts where they are already lucky enough to have front row tickets to the ocean and all the high profile events happen in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. But here in Winnipeg, we care about the ocean too but don’t get as many opportunities to participate. Sure we can do an Earth Day clean up or an Oceans Day talk, but the superstars of the ocean world don’t end up in the Prairies.
To my delight they said yes to Winnipeg AND Calgary (where a couple little people I love reside). I’ve been working with the wonderful Mission 31 team to arrange a 30 minute Skype session from Aquarius. How cool is that? A chat with someone 63 feet under water in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. We get a chance to talk with Fabien Cousteau and the scientists working in the lab the day of our call. There are some super cool people involved like Grace Calvert Young, an MIT grad, who is blogging about the experience. http://www.graceunderthesea.com. I don’t know her but I’ve read about her work and love her enthusiasm. It looks like the world has gained a great new role model and ocean champion.
I do, however, know the immensely talented, Kip Evans, who organized the trip of a lifetime with Dr. Earle two years ago. (Another fabulous Twitter moment if you recall. ) So my goal over the next few weeks is to help the two schools get up to speed on Mission 31, spread the word through all mean I have “at my disposal”, as Dr. Earle wished for in her Ted wish, and participate in another ocean adventure from my chilly Prairie seat in Winnipeg.
Stay tuned for updates as this Mission gets ready to dive deep into the heart of ocean conservation and education.
Follow along at the following links:
Follow: @Mission_31 # @FCousteau @grace_h20 #Mission31
Watch the live feed: http://mission-31.com/watch-live/
And stay tuned here as I give you the Canadian Prairie commentary on this exciting global event.