Women Underwater

A comprehensive resource for women divers.

THE AUTHORS

JILL HEINERTH – A pioneering underwater explorer, Jill Heinerth has dived deeper into caves than any woman in history. Selected for the inaugural class of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, her recent awards include the Wyland Icon and Scuba Diving Magazine’s Sea Hero of the Year. Recognizing a lifetime of contributions to advancing underwater exploration, in 2013, Jill was presented with the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration by the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. The author of several books about diving Jill currently has two titles on Amazon.com’s extreme sports “Top 100” bestseller charts. She is an active filmmaker, author, a regular Diver Magazine columnist and a highly regarded technical diving instructor. Her company, Heinerth Productions, Inc. specializes in independent publishing, new media content creation, and underwater videography. Jill Heinerth’s professional credentials includes PADI CCR Trimix Instructor Trainer in addition to teaching for several rebreather and cave diving agencies.

 

RENEE POWER – Since 1994 Renee Power has participated in dozens of underwater research projects and public education outreach efforts with the Cambrian Foundation. With the Foundation dive team, she has explored and surveyed thousands of feet of new passages in Mexico and Florida caves. Renee is an active NSS-CDS Basic Cave Instructor as well as a PADI Master Instructor. She served as Expedition Dive Safety Officer for projects in Bermuda and Florida, designing detailed safety and evacuation protocols specific to those regions. Renee is an active PADI Master Instructor. Her technical training certifications include Full Cave, Trimix and the Prism Topaz Closed Circuit Rebreather. Renee is a Disabled Diver International Instructor and has served in the Deptherapy Program with wounded military veterans. Her favorite students are the ones she helps empower to overcome their greatest challenges, obstacles and fears.

Earth’s Changes in Surprising Ways as Ice Melts

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FEB1JILLThis article in the Daily Beast confirms a simple truth. As we lose large areas of ice cover, the earth changes in dramatic ways. When I wrote the movie Ice Island in 2000, I learned that the ice was so thick over Antarctic that is squeezed the earth into a slight pear shape. The large mass also affects gravity and as we shift mass around the planet by melting ice, there are documentable changes that are happening very quickly. The Daily Beast sums it up well.

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Women Mentors – Cristina Zenato

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cristinaCristina Zenato – Dive Trainer and Shark Handler

Cristina Zenato’s career qualifies her to be in the category of world’s most dangerous jobs. If handling wild sharks is not enough, she is also a recognized cave diving explorer and instructor. Yet although she operates in a decidedly male world, she places a high value on authenticity, tenacity and celebration of her femininity.

Cristina moved from Italy to the Bahamas in 1994 and decided to make it her home and diving her life. She manages a team of eighteen divers, teaches hundreds of students at all levels from Open Water to Full Cave and specializes in teaching a program on shark handling. While weighted down in a heavily armored chain mail suit, she gracefully coaxes a shark into a status of tonic immobility through gentle touch.  She explores and maps cave systems, providing the Bahamian government with vital information for natural resource protection and is the first woman to have connected a land cave with an ocean blue hole. She consults with organizations for the creation of marine parks with an emphasis on protecting sharks. Cristina believes there is great power in education and volunteers her time to host foreign students and teach local Bahamian school children to dive as part of sharing her vision.

One of the greatest challenges Cristina faces as a woman diver seeking equality is learning how to demonstrate strength and resilience without sacrificing her femininity.  Uniquely connecting well with both women and men students has been rewarding to Cristina.

Cristina has spent years fighting with dive gear that did not fit. Instead of it working for her, she felt overpowered by it. She had to find unique solutions especially with her drysuit and sidemount harness.  In the most recent years those issues have been resolved and now she has gear to suit her body size.

She recalls an awkward moment years ago when she was in a grocery store with a visibly older cave diving colleague. He was buying adult diapers and lubricating jelly for his drysuit seals. “The facial expression of the cashier was priceless!”

With the increase of women in our sport it is evident that we need equipment that both fits and performs. Fortunately, the attitude that women are inferior and weak seems to be declining.. Cristina Zenato believes that women can be strong and feminine at the same time. This new perception is exemplified by her lifestyle, career and passion for the environment that screams, “Be who you are!”

- Renee Power

Read more about other women mentors in “Women Underwater” which will be released November 1, 2014

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Women Divers Hall of Fame 2015 Scholarships and Grants

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DEADLINE FOR 2015 WOMEN DIVERS HALL OF FAME SCHOLARSHIPS AND TRAINING GRANTS IS NOVEMBER 28, 2014
 
The Women Divers Hall of Fame™ (WDHOF) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring and raising awareness of the contributions of outstanding women divers. WDHOF provides educational, mentorship, financial, and career opportunities to the diving community throughout the world. Each year, WDHOF awards scholarships and training grants that provide financial and educational support to individuals of all ages, particularly those who are preparing for professional careers that involve diving. 
 
Scholarships are offered in conservation, marine biology, underwater archaeology, and journalism, graphic arts, or photography. They are intended to support tuition and fees, independent research, and/or an internship program at an accredited university. Scholarships are paid directly to the recipient. 
 
Training grants provide funding for scuba training and, for some awards, scuba equipment. Funds are paid directly to the training facility and/or the equipment vendor upon WDHOF’s receipt of an invoice; they are NOT paid directly to the grantee.
 
 
SCHOLARSHIPS 
 
NEW THIS YEAR!!!  WDHOF SCHOLARSHIP IN MARINE OR UNDERWATER EDUCATION
A $2,000 scholarship will be awarded to a qualified woman of any age to plan and conduct an education project in marine or underwater STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) programs for students in grades K-12. The scholarship may also be used to support independent research by an educator in any underwater STEM area. Applicants should hold a degree (or equivalent certificate) in education, museum studies, or other relevant area, and have experience teaching marine science, technology, or engineering at any K-12 level.
 
NEW THIS YEAR!!!  WDHOF/LIFEGUARD SYSTEMS PUBLIC SAFETY DIVING SCHOLARSHIP
A scholarship to take an unlimited number of any Lifeguard Systems open, Levels 1-3, public safety and water rescue certification training programs for a duration of one year will be awarded to a woman 18 years of age or older, with a commitment to public safety diving and water rescue, and preferably some experience in public safety (e.g., EMT certification, volunteer firefighter, in law enforcement, forensics, etc.). The awardee might be able to stay in the host’s facility (e.g., fire department) at no cost, if such an option is available. Applicants must be certified to dive, have their own dive gear, and must be capable of getting to and from the training programs. The recipient will most likely also be able to take additional training programs from at least one other water rescue/recovery training agency.
 
WDHOF / AGGRESSOR AND DANCER FLEET GRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP IN MARINE CONSERVATION
A $2,000 scholarship will be awarded to a qualified woman of any age who is enrolled in an accredited GRADUATE academic or research program in the field of marine conservation. The scholarship is intended to assist with college tuition/fees or may be used to support independent research or an internship program at an accredited university.
 
WDHOF / CECELIA CONNELLY MEMORIAL GRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP IN UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGY, sponsored by the Connelly family
A $2,000 scholarship will be awarded to a deserving woman graduate student. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited course of study in the field of underwater archaeology. The scholarship is intended to assist with college tuition/fees or field study costs and is open to candidates worldwide. A GPA of 3.0 or better is required, and the applicant must be in good standing with her academic institution. First year graduate students may submit verification of a minimum overall GPA of 2.5 from their final year as an undergraduate. There is no applicant age limit.
 
WDHOF / CECELIA CONNELLY MEMORIAL UNDERGRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP IN UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGY, sponsored by the Connelly family
A $750 scholarship will be awarded to a deserving woman undergraduate student. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited course of study in the field of underwater archaeology. The scholarship is intended to assist with college tuition/fees or field study costs and is open to candidates worldwide. An overall GPA of 2.5 or better is required and the applicant must be in good standing with her academic institution. There is no applicant age limit.
 
WDHOF / ELIZABETH GREENHALGH MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP IN JOURNALISM, GRAPHIC ARTS, OR PHOTOGRAPHY, sponsored by Deb Greenhalgh
A $1,500 scholarship will be awarded to a woman diver who is furthering her education beyond high school in the field of journalism, graphic arts, or photography to better serve the ocean environment or ocean community. The scholarship is intended to assist with college tuition/fees or may be used to support an internship program at an accredited university.
 
WDHOF UNDERGRADUATE MARINE RESEARCH INTERNSHIP IN MARINE BIOLOGY, sponsored by Sue Morra, Ph.D. and Kathleen Dudzinski, Ph.D.
A $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to a woman UNDERGRADUATE student who is (or will be) participating in an internship program with a focus in marine biology. Students must have completed at least 60 credits or hold third year (junior) status prior to starting the internship.
 
WDHOF UNDERGRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP IN MARINE CONSERVATION, sponsored by Sherry A. Reed
A $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to a deserving UNDERGRADUATE woman who is enrolled in an accredited academic or research program in the field of marine conservation. Special consideration will be given to those women who are scuba certified. The scholarship is intended to assist with college tuition/fees or may be used to support independent research or an internship program at an accredited university.
 

TRAINING GRANTS 

WDHOF ADVANCED DIVE TRAINING GRANT sponsored by Bonnie Toth
A $1,000 training grant (up to $500 for training and up to $500 for dive equipment) will be awarded to a deserving woman diver of any age and background who wishes to further her dive education through an approved scuba diving program beyond the basic certification level. Up to $500 may be used for dive training, and up to $500 may be used for dive equipment. The recipient MUST use the funds for training BEFORE she uses the award to purchase dive equipment. When the recipient enrolls in an approved diving course/program and purchases dive equipment, the training facility/equipment vendor must send the invoice to WDHOF; funds are paid directly to the training facility/vendor, and not to the recipient.
 
WDHOF / AMELIA BEHRENS-FURNISS MEMORIAL HARDHAT TRAINING GRANT
A $1,000 grant will be awarded to a deserving woman diver of any age and background who wishes to begin or further her training in hardhat diving through an approved hardhat dive training program. The applicant should be enrolled in or attending a commercial dive school. Up to $1,000 may be used for dive training. When the recipient enrolls in an approved diving course/program, the training facility must send the invoice to WDHOF; funds are paid directly to the training facility, and not to the recipient.
 
NEW THIS YEAR!!!  WDHOF / CODE BLUE EDUCATION LTD DIVER MEDIC TRAINING GRANT
A $2000.00 training grant ($1275.00 for training and up to $725.00 for food and accommodations) will be awarded to a deserving male or female who wishes to further his/her diving training/education as a diver medic technician. The recipient must enroll in an approved Diver Medic Training facility with Code Blue Education Ltd in the United Kingdom. Upon successful completion of the Diver Medic Technician course, the recipient will be awarded a DAN or IMCA Diver Medical Technician certification. Applicants must be over the age of 18, have at least the recreational diver certification of Rescue Diver or equivalent, and should hold a current EFR/BLS/First Aid certification.

NEW THIS YEAR!!!  WDHOF / ELLA JEAN MORGAN MEMORIAL DIVE TRAINING GRANT
A $1,000 training grant will be awarded to a deserving young female, age 15-21, who wishes to begin her dive education/training. Up to $500 may be used for dive training, and up to $500 may be used for dive equipment. The recipient MUST use the funds for training BEFORE she uses the award to purchase dive equipment. An approved diving course must consist of at least 12 hours of classroom training, 12 hours of pool/confined-water training and at least 5 open-water dives and must culminate in a certification from a nationally recognized diver-training agency. When the recipient enrolls in an approved diving course/program and purchases dive equipment, the training facility/equipment vendor must send the invoice to WDHOF; funds are paid directly to the training facility/vendor, and not to the recipient.

WDHOF / HUGH FLETCHER MEMORIAL TRAINING GRANT TO ASSIST THE DISABLED TO DIVE
A $1,000 training grant (up to $500 for training and up to $500 for dive equipment) will be awarded to any disabled diver who wishes to pursue or further his/her dive education and purchase adaptive equipment, or to a dive master, assistant instructor, or instructor to gain the required education/training to assist or teach the disabled to dive. Candidates can be male or female. Up to $500 may be used for dive training, and up to $500 may be used for adaptive dive equipment. The recipient MUST use the funds for training BEFORE he/she uses the award to purchase adaptive dive equipment. When the recipient enrolls in an approved diving course/program and purchases adaptive dive equipment, the training facility/equipment vendor must send the invoice to WDHOF; funds are paid directly to the training facility/vendor, and not to the recipient.

WDHOF / KIDS SEA CAMP BASIC DIVE TRAINING GRANTS, sponsored by Margo Peyton
Two $500 training grants will be awarded to deserving women divers of any age and background who wish to begin their dive education through a PADI scuba certification course. Two awards will be given to novice divers to gain the fundamental knowledge, skills and ability to safely breathe underwater. The recipients must enroll in approved PADI diving courses/programs at a PADI training facility located closest to the home of the recipient. The training facility must send the invoice to WDHOF; funds are paid directly to the training facility, and not to the recipient.

NEW THIS YEAR!!!  WDHOF / MORGAN/O’NEILL UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GRANT
A $2,000 grant will be awarded to a qualified female photographer of any age to continue her professional development in the field of underwater photography. Applicants must be certified divers with significant dive experience. The successful applicant will be a serious, career-minded woman with the intent to (continue to) develop her career in underwater photography. Applicants will be required to submit a photographic portfolio and an essay. The grant may be used to fund master digital workshops or other developmental classes in underwater photography, and funds will be paid directly to the instructional facility—not to the recipient. The grant may not be used to buy equipment.

WDHOF / OCEAN PALS JUNIOR DIVE TRAINING GRANT
A $1,000 training grant (up to $500 for training and up to $500 for dive equipment) will be awarded to a deserving young woman, ages 13-16, who wishes to begin or further her dive education/training. Up to $500 may be used for dive training, and up to $500 may be used for dive equipment. The recipient MUST use the funds for training BEFORE she uses the award to purchase dive equipment. When the recipient enrolls in an approved diving course/program and purchases dive equipment, the training facility/equipment vendor must send the invoice to WDHOF; funds are paid directly to the training facility/vendor, and not to the recipient.

WDHOF / SCUBA MADE EASY TRAINING GRANT IN MARINE SCIENCE, OCEANOGRAPHY OR OCEAN ENGINEERING
A $1,000 training grant (up to $500 for training and up to $500 for dive equipment) will be awarded to a deserving woman diver of any age, working in the areas of marine science, oceanography or ocean engineering. The training grant is to be used for the purpose of continuing diver education/training and is open to candidates worldwide. The recipient MUST use the funds for training BEFORE she uses the award to purchase dive equipment. When the recipient enrolls in an approved diving course/program and purchases dive equipment, the training facility/equipment vendor must send the invoice to WDHOF; funds are paid directly to the training facility/vendor, and not to the recipient.

WDHOF / WOMEN’S SCUBA ASSOCIATION TRAINING GRANT sponsored by Jennifer King
A $750 training grant (up to $500 for training and up to $250 for dive equipment) will be awarded to a deserving young male or female who wishes to begin or further his/her dive education/training. Candidates must be enrolled in an ROTC or JROTC program, military academy or be a Sea Cadet. Up to $500 may be used for dive training, and up to $250 may be used for dive equipment. The recipient MUST use the funds for training BEFORE he/she uses the award to purchase dive equipment. When the recipient enrolls in an approved diving course/program and purchases dive equipment, the training facility/equipment vendor must send the invoice to WDHOF; funds are paid directly to the training facility/vendor, and not to the recipient.
 
 
How to apply: 
 
Information on all scholarships/grants and the online application can be found at http://www.wdhof.org/scholarships/scholarships.shtml

You may only apply for one scholarship/grant per year. Applicants MUST complete the online application form. Please read the scholarship/grant descriptions and application instructions carefully. All scholarships/grants require the applicant to submit a biography/resume/curriculum vitae, an essay, and two letters of recommendation. Some of the scholarships/training grants require additional information, or are for specific purposes. Incomplete and/or late applications will not be accepted for further consideration. If you have questions after you’ve carefully read the application instructions, please email: scholarships@wdhof.org
 
The deadline for receipt of applications is November 28, 2014 at midnight U.S. Eastern Standard Time. Applicants will be notified of award status by February 1, 2015. Only online submissions will be accepted.
 
To learn more about The Women Divers Hall of Fame, visit: www.wdhof.org

 

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Dive Safety – An Interview of Jill Heinerth

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ALERT DIVER, the prestigious and excellent publication of Divers Alert Network recently reached out to me with some questions about how I view dive safety. Establishing a culture of dive safety is of great importance to dive leaders and is central to Divers Alert Network’s mission. They’ll be sharing these thoughts and those of other experts in coming issues of their magazine.

ALERT DIVER: Recreational diving culture; what does it mean to you?

JILL HEINERTH: Sport diving is a community made up of many different subcultures. These small groups of divers are knitted together by their shop, club, charter operator or perhaps agency affiliation. Some of these tribes are known for their technical expertise, their great trips or safe operations. Others are tagged for aggression, cockiness or exclusivity. It’s like any other participation sport. People tend to congregate in smaller groups and roam with pack like behavior. If you’ve been in diving long enough, you’ll find that people drift in and out, switch sides and change their behaviors. Sometimes change is brought on by the wisdom of experience, sometimes through the example of great leadership and other times influenced by the shocking impact of witnessing an incident or tragedy.

ALERT DIVER: What are characteristics of a safety-aware diver?

JILL HEINERTH: In my opinion, a safety aware diver is one who is fully engaged in their participation in diving. He/she understands and has accepted risk and takes full personal responsibility for outcomes. A safety-aware diver is one who looks on a given dive and asks him/herself, “Am I fully capable of self rescue in this scenario and am I fully capable and willing to execute a buddy rescue if needed?” A safe diver, would only enter the water if the answer was an unequivocal “yes” to both questions.

ALERT DIVER: What is the role of training agencies in shaping and disseminating a culture of safety?

JILL HEINERTH: Training agencies have the opportunity to set the ground rules right from the beginning and guide divers to recognize that the general safety rules have been developed from practical experiences. I understand that training agencies have a responsibility to their stakeholders to sell classes and materials, but ultimately the sport benefits when a safe culture is rooted during entry level training and is carried through consistently in continuing education. When shortcuts are allowed and tolerated, then an attrition of knowledge and decay of safe practices results. One instructor that slips through the cracks without following standards can affect hundreds of future divers that can also move on to affect another generation of divers. Maintaining high standards and ensuring strict quality assurance is critical to nurturing a consistent climate of safe diving practices.

ALERT DIVER: How can dive operators contribute to the culture of dive safety?

JILL HEINERTH: I suppose I have become more conservative as I have gained the wisdom of experience. At the risk of sounding old, I sometimes look back on my early years as a Divemaster and realize that some of my colleagues bowed to the constant pressure to take clients on the “most exciting dive of their lives.” For some that lead to cutting corners and stretching standards in the hopes it would create return customers and big tips. These days, operators are under increased competition to offer the best adrenaline-laced experience they can possibly summon.

But I learned early that enthusiasm is infectious. If you love what you are doing, then your clients will love their experiences with you. There is wonder and satisfaction just being underwater. When people get away from their office or cold climate and arrive in a tropical destination, what they are really looking for is positivity, a communal participation in remarkable experiences and fun. It’s great if you get blessed with a stunning manta ray, but it can be just as exciting to see a jaw fish with a mouth full of eggs. A Divemaster is a skilled professional, but also a motivational speaker. Their knowledge and engagement in their passion is what will ultimately be remembered and that doesn’t require great depths or unnecessary risks.

ALERT DIVER: What kind of social support should divers expect when diving?

JILL HEINERTH: I believe that divers should seek a nurturing environment. (I cringe when I hear instructors or Divemasters yelling at a client). A learning environment or a diving tribe should be supportive, free of harassment or peer pressure and inclusive of all genders and experience levels. Diving should be mutually respectful. Each diver should be given the opportunity and be encouraged to take full responsibility for his/herself. Anything less than that is disrespectful to the individual and team and is patently unsafe.

ALERT DIVER: How can the culture of dive safety be promoted?

JILL HEINERTH: My Great Uncle Jock used to tell me that “a friend knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” That lesson speaks volumes to me in terms of diving. Human beings are so inclined to find camaraderie that they are often prone to peer pressure. Keeping that in mind, it is important that individuals, instructors, operators and shop owners all work together to promote safe diving practices and pledge to point out issues that evolve over time. In doing so, they should recognize that positive role modeling will go a lot farther than negative reinforcement.

As a young diver in Tobermory, Canada, I was taking a class from a great role model, Dale McKnight. He was a master at mentoring academic and physical diving skills but also the psychological factors in diving. We had worked hard for days, practiced skills and made plans to complete the deepest and first decompression dive of our lives. We were on the boat heading to the site when Dale told us that we had done such a great job that he would reward us with an extra ten feet of depth and five more minutes of bottom time. We could use the contingency plans we had constructed the night before. My colleagues hooted and hollered in excitement while I felt a deepening angst growing in the pit of my stomach. With my head bowed down, I quietly muttered that I did not feel ready for that dive… that I would sit on the boat. I was disappointed and embarrassed. Dale tried to reel me back into the dive, but I was dejected and not ready.

After allowing a few minutes of chest beating and gratification, Dale admonished the other divers for permitting him to shift a safe, organized plan into a “trust-me” dive. At first, I did not understand what was happening, but soon recognized that he was patting me on the back. I had passed his test. By aborting my dive, I was being rewarded. I’m so glad to know that Dale is still teaching today, because he taught me an important lesson that may have even saved my life. A true survivor needs to know when to get within a hair’s breadth of complete success and then be willing to turn back and call it a day.

I have a special note for my rebreather diving colleagues. A safe culture of rebreather diving includes three simple actions.
  1. Use a checklist (automated or on paper) every time your prepare your unit for a dive.
  2. Complete a five-minute pre-breathe of your unit in a safe seated position with your nose blocked and paying attention to your displays.
  3. Do not enter the water if anything has failed your test and abort your dive immediately in the safest manner possible if a failure occurs underwater.

Adherence to these three rules must be uncompromising for yourself and everyone on your team.

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Women Mentors

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Evelyn Dudas – Pioneering Technical Diver & Custom Suit Manufacturer

Evelyn Bartram Dudas is considered by many to be the the most famous women wreck diver in history. Since 1965 Evelyn has been diving the North Atlantic wrecks. She was the first woman to dive the Andrea Doria in 1967, while accompanying John Dudas, who recovered the main compass and brass binnacle cover from the then intact wheel house. She was very frustrated by the lack of proper scuba equipment for women. In 1965 she decided to design, assemble, and sell women’s wetsuits in the incongruous setting of an old barn on her family’s ancestral property in Westtown. After the untimely death of her husband in 1982, as a result of a diving accident, she continued to expand Dudas Diving Duds into a full service dive shop while raising four children as a single parent. Her full service recreational and technical dive shop is still active near West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Evelyn returned to the Doria again in 1992 and sought further training in Trimix with Billy Deans and Full Cave with Tom Mount. Evie is hobbled by osteoporosis that she thinks is due to improper decompression in her early diving years. She is a fighter and a survivor, not allowing physical challenges to get in the way of her diving pursuits. She has become an avid cave diver and teaches DPV classes both in open water and overhead environments. Photography is still a passionate hobby of hers. Worldwide travels to wrecks in Truk, Bikini, Vanuatu, Grenada, North Carolina, the St. Lawrence River and Tobermory occupy much of the traveling she does now. As an active open water NAUI instructor Evie teaches kids camps in the summer.

Evie is an inaugural inductee into the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame, a member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Explorers Club and program manager of Keystone Diver’s Association. Evie is a diving legend and mentor to many and is still very active in diving well into her sixties.

- Renee Power

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Women Underwater – Why Do We Need to Write It?

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In 1979, Susan Bangasser and Jeanne Bear Sleeper published the first book to specifically reach women divers. In 1992, Ella Jean Morgan and Erin O’Neill published When Women Dive. They were way ahead of their time. All inaugural inductees into the Women Divers Hall of Fame, they are true pioneers in our industry.

In the late 1990s, my dear friend Patty Mortara and I were lamenting the lack of resources and connections between the very few female technical divers around the world. With Velora Peacock, we started an organization called Cardea 2000, in the hopes that we could better connect women ted divers around the world by the turn of the century. Patty and I started a magazine called Women Underwater in order to further that cause. Edited and printed in small numbers we mailed out the quarterly around the world until we ran out of money to do it. We shared stories about expeditions, gear and resources with our growing community of women technical divers. I knew one day I would dust off that concept. Writing Women Underwater with Renee Power is very much the result of that dream.

In the current era of women’s rights and feminism, many of us seek to diminish the differences between genders and instead fight for true equality. As such, I have been questioned about why I would want to separate women and men in the field of diving. I’ve received a few angry emails suggesting that this effort sets back attempts at gaining equality. Recently, I got a Facebook note from a man who thought the notion of a women’s specific book was patently ridiculous. In this case, my husband wanted to answer, “I guess you’ve never had to worry about having your period in a wetsuit!” (I’ve got a really cool, and incredibly proud husband).

However, Women Underwater and its accompanying website seeks to address much more than just women’s specific health issues. Truthfully, our industry is only just beginning to recognize that women need distinct solutions for equipment rather than something that is just small and pink. In careers, women still struggle to be considered capable of participating in traditionally male-dominated professions. On dive boats, women are still frequently treated with insensitivity, prejudice and even harassment. Clearly these are unique issues that women face in the underwater world.

Women Underwater aims to reach out to women to help find their place in the diving community. With detailed guidance on equipment, medical issues and social factors, we have also included inspiring stories and advice from mentors who have forged remarkable careers in underwater fields. Our hope is to provide a solid reference and inspiration for women to feel included and capable of pursuing their unique path in diving.

We hope you’ll reading it and continue to follow our blog at IntoThePlanet.com. The book will be released November 1, 2014 and will be for sale on IntoThePlanet.com, Amazon.com and other retailers.

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Fitting Gloves for Women

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There is no arguing that women’s hands are smaller than men’s, yet there are few underwater gloves that have been designed for a woman’s hand. When you choose a pair of gloves of any thickness, ensure they are snug. The gaps between the glove’s fingers should nestle right down into the web between your own fingers. When they are pushed down, you want the fingertips to hit the very top of each finger pocket. In the case of three-finger mitts, it is critical that the index finger touches the top of the finger pocket. If you have a little extra glove hanging over the top of your finger, it will rob you of your dexterity.

If you are selecting a dry glove system, the same fit tips are true. Dry gloves are a two-part system. The inner glove functions as insulation and the outer glove serves as waterproofing. When attached to a dry suit, the diver generally leaves the thumb loop from their undergarment in the wrist seal of the dry suit to allow some air transfer between the glove and the suit while still maintaining most of the seal in case of a flood. When the outer glove is donned on the surface, it is done so leaving some air in the glove. As you descend, the outer glove compresses somewhat and improves dexterity as it becomes more form fitting. The thumb loop from your undergarment offers just enough space to allow more air from the suit to enter the glove as you descend, equalizing it along the way. On ascent, the reverse takes place. The extra gas in the glove will travel back into your suit without you even noticing it. If you fail to leave something in the wrist seal for air transfer, then you will reach about 30 feet or 10 meters and find the gloves to be too tight, preventing further descent.

Form fitting gloves will not only keep you warm but also make diving easier when you can easily operate all your clips and buckles without assistance.

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Crossing the Arctic Circle

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With 9000 feet of water below us, in the middle of the Davis Strait that separates Baffin Island from Greenland, we watch our Suunto Ambit computers tick down towards the point that marks the crossing of the Arctic Circle. We are determined to swim across this arbitrary point that looms so significantly in our minds.

In early 2000, I crossed the Antarctic Circle en route to making my first documentary film “Ice Island.” We were chasing the largest iceberg in recorded history – a piece of ice the size of Jamaica. It was the first time I had heard scientists speaking gravely about global climate change.

Now, just fourteen years later I lunge into the Arctic Ocean with my nine women colleagues and snorkel across a spot that was bound by sea ice when I visited Antarctica.

We cannot ignore that ocean change and earth change is hurtling towards us like a freight train with no brakes. Though we may feel powerless to halt its advance, we can all make small changes in our lives that help. Talking about it is just the start.

Read the right sidebar on this page for a few ideas.

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Overcome Fear

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This message is a universal one. Every diver should know how to embrace fear to survive. In this short nine minute video I describe life lessons that have helped me face the worst and come home safe. It has a special focus for rebreather divers about basic preparation that will help you prevent most common rebreather diving accidents.

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Midnight Glacier

By | All Posts, Sedna Expedition, Underwater Photo and Video, We Are Water | No Comments

Sea ice is declining in the Arctic, but that loss is not directly responsible for rising sea level. Think about a cold drink filled with ice cubes. When the cubes melt, the glass will not overflow. When a glacier or ice sheet on land melts, it directly contributes to more water in the ocean and rising sea level. These photos depict part of the Greenland Ice Sheet where it meets the sea and calves into the ocean. As solid as it looks, it is moving like a river and breaking off into the sea creating icebergs we have seen on our entire journey. I sat on a hilltop in Ilulissat listening to the sound of global climate change… distant cracks and thunderous roars of ice breaking into the sea. It was midnight under a glorious canopy of orange clouds. No photos will ever totally capture this place.

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Women Underwater – The Comprehensive Guide to Women in Scuba Diving, reaches out to women with specific information about their place in diving. With detailed guidance on equipment, medical issues and social factors, this book reaches women with inspiring stories from mentors who have forged a career in unique underwater fields. Authors Jill Heinerth and Renee Power tackle topics for both recreational and technical divers while featuring their vast experience in instruction, consulting and working in a field predominantly governed by men. At times humorous yet also deadly serious, the book answers delicate questions about hygiene, equipment fit and dealing with sexism. Printed in full color and generously illustrated, Women Underwater will be a welcome resource for any woman diver.

Women Underwater available now!