The arrival of the historic Canada Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast (Canada C3) expedition and Fish Eye Project’s Arctic live dive event⎯broadcast across the nation on Sunday 27 August⎯turns a tiny Nunavut hamlet into an innovative ocean literacy and climate science hub.
For the first time in Canadian history, a group of marine biologists, educators and divers successfully broadcast live across the country from the frigid Arctic Ocean (Figure 1). On Sunday, 27 August, Victoria-based Fish Eye Project climbed aboard the Canada C3 ice breaker in Cambridge Bay and hosted a broadcast that provided Canadians with an opportunity to experience a glimpse of Arctic marine life (Figure 2).
The English and French live dives⎯streamed live on CanadaC3 Facebook page⎯were viewed close to 200,000 times in less than a week. See for yourself!
Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) was proud to sponsor this innovative opportunity to help Canadians understand and experience the Arctic Ocean. Victoria-based Fisheye Project founders Mike Irvine and Maeva Gauthier (Figure 3) are both University of Victoria alumni. Fish Eye Project connects people to the world’s ocean through interactive live dives. Participants can see, hear, and talk to scuba divers, in real time, without getting wet.
“ONC was instrumental in making this Arctic live dive possible,” says Fish Eye Project co-founder Maeva Gauthier. “Fish Eye is proud to have partnered with ONC to connect tens of thousands of Canadians with the Arctic Ocean and share the amazing biodiversity in these waters. ONC’s connections with the Cambridge Bay community and the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), ocean education background, and knowledge of the marine life in these waters were very helpful. POLAR Knowledge Canada and CHARS have been very helpful locally and Ocean Wise provided us with dive gear.”
Twenty-year old Mia Otokiak, ONC’s first Youth Science Ambassador (2016-2017) was the star of the show, speaking on behalf of the Cambridge Bay community and ONC at both the Arctic live dive and the Canada C3 welcome ceremony (Figure 4).
The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport was also in Cambridge Bay to greet the arrival of Canada C3 and to make a funding announcement (Figure 5). Over the next 5 years, $175 million will be invested for Arctic Ocean initiatives, including safety equipment, marine infrastructure and training in Arctic coastal communities; an "Arctic National Aerial Surveillance Program Complex" in Iqaluit to allow for increased surveillance capabilities over the growing number of ships in the north; the establishment of an office of incident management through Transport Canada; expansion of Transport Canada's Community Participation Funding Program; and expansion of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary in the Arctic. Support for these initiatives will be allocated out of the government's $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan announced in November 2016.
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change watched the dive online and tweeted about her desire to participate in a future live dive (Figure 6).
Meanwhile, the ONC team are in Cambridge Bay from 3-15 September to conduct annual maintenance and upgrades to ONC’s underwater arctic observatory and shore station, now in its fifth year of gathering continuous Arctic Ocean and sea ice data.
At the same time, ONC’s Learning and Engagement team will be further developing ONC’s relationships with local schools and community groups, while the team fosters ongoing collaborations with international Arctic research initiatives at the recently completed Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), which will officially open in October 2017.