Ocean Research Expedition
Arctic Norway, 2022
Historically, women and gender diverse individuals have been systematically excluded from participating in political, scientific, and exploration processes.
In response, a group of trailblazing women, non-binary individuals, and two-spirit people came together for the Sea Women's Ocean Research Expedition aboard the MV Vestland Explorer.
Their goal was to study the interlocking themes of gender, ocean sustainability, loss of biodiversity, and climate change in the Arctic. By bringing together traditional knowledge, scientific research, and the arts, the team approached challenges from multiple perspectives, ultimately leading to a deeper understanding of the complex issues they encountered.
During the expedition, we started each morning by collecting a few water samples for the eDNA project, before beginning the search for orcas and whales.
Kathy, an environmental and marine advocate who protects sharks through responsible ecotourism in Singapore, could be found up on the captain's deck, keeping a lookout for these magnificent creatures. As the Science Communicator for the expedition, Kathy was instrumental in making science more accessible to a wider audience.
The expedition had a distinct focus on STEAM, which combined the worlds of art and science.
Arita Baaijens (above) and Lien De Ruyck led the art project, which was centered on storytelling and deep mapping. Deep mapping involves documenting not only the visible features of a landscape but also intangible elements, such as emotions, memories, and events associated with the area.
This practice enabled us to see and experience the place from a multifaceted perspective.
The eDNA project was conducted to examine the species composition of the local marine habitat. To achieve this, seawater samples were collected, and DNA was extracted and sequenced.
By analyzing this DNA, we will be able to identify the various species that can be found in the area, including small organisms and marine mammals. The results of this study will be used to create a comprehensive database, which will help us better understand how these environments may change over time.
As Dr. Wing pointed out, understanding the various species in an ecosystem is the first step to conservation efforts. The information gathered through this project will be invaluable in informing the health of the marine habitat we explored during the Sea Women's Ocean Research Expedition.
The language of science can often be inaccessible, leaving many feeling disconnected from the latest research. Communicating scientific studies in an approachable way was a top priority for the Sea Women's Ocean Research Expedition. During the trip, Susan R. Eaton, Leslie Anne St. Amour, Alicia Bruzos, and Dr Wing Chan (left to right) took the time to explain our work in the Arctic to a group of elementary school children, highlighting the importance of our research and the potential impact it could have on the environment.