Live-streamed underwater dives will offer watery window on Arctic life

 

A pair of Arctic ocean dives organized by two UVic alumni will be broadcast live across Canada next weekend, marking a national first.

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The Fish Eye Project, founded by University of Victoria education graduate Mike Irvine and Maeva Gauthier, now an oceanography PhD candidate at the university, is organizing the Aug. 27 dives.

Other participating groups include the UVic-led Ocean Networks, Polar Knowledge Canada, Ocean Wise, and Canada C3, a Canada 150 project featuring an icebreaker travelling from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage.

The two dives, which will take place off a dock in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, will be the first to be broadcast live across Canada from the Arctic. Viewers will be able to watch online via facebook.com/CanadaC3 and in certain facilities and museums — including the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria and the Vancouver Aquarium.

B.C. viewers can tune in at 11 a.m. on Aug. 27 for the English version of the dive, and at 1 p.m. for a second dive, to be broadcast in French.

Gauthier said viewers will able to ask questions via the Canada C3 Facebook page. Intermediaries will provide answers or pass the queries to the divers.

The broadcasts will be hosted above water by Irvine and Gauthier, assisted by Inuit residents of Cambridge Bay.

Gauthier said it’s hoped viewers will get a variety of viewpoints from which to see the Canadian Arctic and its geography, ecology and human culture.

“Not many people go to the Arctic,” she said. “But I’ve been a few times and I’m in love with the place.

“There are just so many aspects to it and we are hoping it will give people a sense of the Canadian Arctic,” she said. “What is the Arctic, how do people live there and what can you see under its water?”

The live footage will be mixed with pre-recorded video of wild creatures such as polar bears and narwhal, the tusk-bearing whales of northern waters.

“It’s going to be a real show,” Gauthier said.

The non-profit Fish Eye Project aims to inspire the next generation of ocean stewards. In 2016, Irvine hosted a live dive from the underwater kelp forests off Ogden Point Breakwater. The previous year, he presented his master’s project from five metres below the surface of the Salish Sea.

Irvine will remain on the icebreaker, Polar Prince, as it makes its way toward the Pacific, shooting video of the environment, Arctic communities and life on the ship until he leaves on Sept. 10.

Polar Prince is expected to dock Oct. 28 in Victoria, the last stop on its coast-to-coast-to-coast trip.

To learn more about the Fish Eye Project and the upcoming dive, go to fisheyeproject.org. More information about the Canada C3 expedition, including a map and tracker locator of the Polar Prince, is online at canadac3.ca.

rwatts@timescolonist.com

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