ALPENA, MI – As a part of PADI® (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Women’s Dive Day on Saturday, July 16th, 2016, fourteen adventurous women from the United States, Canada, and Mexico will embark on a world record-setting journey: SCUBA diving to one historic site in each of the five Great Lakes in less than 24 hours.
Following the natural flow of the Great Lakes, the BigFiveDive team will begin their first dive at midnight in the cold waters of Lake Superior. Driving nearly 1,000 miles across the five Great Lakes, the women will end their fifth dive in Lake Ontario, at approximately 8:00 pm.
The BigFiveDive world record-setting journey will unfold on July 16, during the second annual PADI Women’s Dive Day. Launched in 2015, this international dive day is designed to strengthen and grow the female diver community. PADI members, industry icons, and recreational divers – both male and female alike – will take part in hundreds of events across the globe intended to narrow the gender gap in diving. Nick Myers, owner/operator of sponsoring dive shop Great Lakes Divers says, “We hope to inspire the next generation of female divers to explore both careers and recreational opportunities in our underwater world, whether it’s in the Great Lakes or the ocean.”
According to Stephanie Gandulla, underwater archaeologist and Sedna Epic Expedition team member, the idea for participating in PADI Women’s Dive Day came from a discussion with dive buddies Jacque Edwards and Meaghan Gass. “The three of us realized that the BigFiveDive would be the perfect feat to attempt…and a fun way to connect local divers and communities with the Sedna Epic Expedition.”
Two underwater archaeologists from Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a graphic designer, and a student from Michigan State University, are some of the divers that make up the BigFiveDive team.
Joining the BigFiveDive are eight additional members of the all-female Sedna Epic Expedition which has its sights set on snorkeling the Northwest Passage (all 2,000 miles of it!) to bring global attention to disappearing sea ice in the Arctic. Susan R. Eaton, a geologist, geophysicist and journalist, is the founder and leader of the Sedna Epic Expedition. “The Sedna Epic’s sea women are delighted to join women divers in Michigan for this historic world-record,” said Eaton. “Team Sedna seeks out epic firsts—whether snorkeling across the Arctic Circle in 2014 or launching a snorkel relay of the Northwest Passage in 2018. This is a great team-building exercise for Sedna’s team of sea women who are PADI’s first AmbassaDiver Team.”
Known for its rich maritime history, the Great Lakes hold thousands of shipwrecks in its waters, with many yet to be discovered. The shipwreck sites the women will visit include top Michigan tourist destinations such as the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, the International Headlands Dark Sky Park on the Straits of Mackinac, and 40-mile Point Lighthouse on the shores of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The final site will be in Olcott, New York on dock remains at the historic Olcott Beach Hotel, now a county park.
“This won’t be easy,” says Jacque Edwards, another founding member of The BigFiveDive. “We face poor visibility, heavy traffic, and possible gear malfunctions. At the same time, I’m really looking forward to an intense dive experience with this group of amazing women!”
The BigFiveDive is sponsored by Great Lakes Divers, a PADI Dive Center in Alpena, Michigan. For more information about PADI, the largest recreational diving and training organization in the world, please visit padi.com.