Expedition News


Contact: Bryan G. Crane

BlueWater Advisory Group for

InMER Expeditions



ArcticThaw: A Voyage of Science and Discovery Through the Arctic’s Northwest Passage


Integrated Marine Education Research (InMER) Expedition’s Reconnaissance Flight through the Northwest Passage wings its way into history on August 14, 2007


August 13th, 2007 – Santa Barbara, CA – Integrated Marine Education Research (InMER) Expeditions’ multi-year global climate change initiative ArcticThaw: A  Voyage of Science and Discovery Through the Arctic’s Northwest Passage – wings its way into history with an Aerial Reconnaissance Expedition to the fabled Northwest Passage on August 14, 2007.  This is the first phase of a multi-year project to scientifically catalog the dramatic changes in the Arctic ecosystem as the Northwest Passage thaws, becoming consistently ice free for the first time in recorded history. 


The opening of this fabled passage way through the arctic above the North American continent will shorten the trade route between Europe and Asia by 4700 nautical miles.  This shortened trade route will result in massive increase in shipping traffic as well as an increase in exploration and extraction of natural resources within this pristine and fragile environment.


Departing from Santa Barbara Airport on August 14th, InMER will undertake a week long, Aerial Reconnaissance mission to the Northwest Passage.  Flying along the route that its Scientific Research ship CCGS AMUNDSEN will attempt through the ice in 18 months, Santa Barbara, California based InMER Expeditions, will fly through the heart of the Northwest Passage landing at the Inuit villages of Gjoa Haven, Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk, Holman Island and Sachs Harbor. 


InMER’s Expedition is to catalog the changes in this environment and emphasize the scientific process in understanding global warming as it relates to the unprecedented opening of the Northwest Passage and the changing Arctic environment, as well as to seek specific policy solutions by collaborating with and supporting the Aspen Institute’s Civil Commission on Arctic Climate Change.


Goals of the InMER 2007 Aerial Reconnaissance Expedition to the Northwest Passage.


There are four goals of InMER's 2007 aerial reconnaissance trip through the Northwest Passage.


1) Familiarize InMER with the Northwest Passage and key villages along route

2) Initiate meetings leading to continued dialogue with key Inuit leadership

3) Launch InMER's Northwest Passage Project; begin InMER’s education outreach concerning global warming and its link to the Northwest Passage

4) Collect imagery, stills and video for outreach efforts and web site.


Global climate change is the issue of our time.  With Wall Street, governments and scientific and social organizations around the globe leaping to action on this topic, events unfolding in the Arctic ecosystem are dramatic and of extreme importance to the planet’s health.  The Arctic ecosystem can be seen as the “canary in the coal mine” for the rest of the globe’s interrelated ecosystems.  InMER's Northwest Passage project is designed to inform, inspire and persuade individuals and corporations to act decisively to address this human induced climate change. 


Through our collaborations and prime outreach products InMER will reach tens of millions of people throughout North America.  An itinerary and map of the proposed route for the reconnaissance mission is attached.  A full description of the entire project scope and vision can be found at http://www.inmer.org/INMER-PRESENTATION-S.pdf




Ed Cassano – Expedition Leader and founder of InMER

Kyle Ogden – Chief Pilot

Clayton Neufeld - Co-pilot

Richard Theiss – Cinematographer


Major funding for this reconnaissance mission was provided by the Duncan Family of Santa Barbara, CA, Dr. Sylvia Earle, and several significant anonymous contributions.  Additional funding was provided by the BlueWater Advisory Group, Peg and Lou Cassano, Maggie Cassano and Tom Way, and Adam and Kara Rhodes. 

Videographer Richard Theiss is providing his considerable talent and expertise on the reconnaissance mission. RTSea Productions provides video and still production services with a particular emphasis on nature and underwater subject matter. RTSea Productions is dedicated to capturing nature and underwater images that will impress and move viewers to preserve and protect our precious natural resources – above and below the waves.

About the Northwest Passage and its relevance to global climate change.


One of history’s greatest enterprises. The fabled Northwest Passage leading from Europe to Asia through or around North America has been sought for centuries. Jim Delgado, in his book ”Across the Top of the World”(Checkmark Books, 1999), describes the search for the Northwest Passage as “an epic tale of tragedy, determination and human struggle to best nature in one of history’s greatest enterprises.” [1]   Shortening the trade route between Europe and Asia by 4,700 nautical miles, this quest lasted for more than three centuries and was considered the Holy Grail of maritime achievements.


Soon to become a reality. The Arctic polar cap is melting and the fabled Northwest Passage is likely to be ice-free during summer months in the coming decade, perhaps as early as the next five years. The route sought for centuries will now be a reality — due to global warming, and not without significant consequences.


By using the historical importance of the quest for the Northwest Passage coupled with future economic and international relations implications of the opening of the sea route, the expedition will highlight the effects of a warming planet and draw a connection to individual responsibility and personal action to lessen, halt and ultimately reverse this dire process.


Good thing, bad thing?  There is an inherent tension in the changing Arctic.  Many nations and business see vast opportunities”, said Captain Ed Cassano, InMER’s founder and the expedition leader.  “The opening of the Northwest Passage itself is viewed as a potential economic boon for the world’s economies.  However, the thawing of the Northwest Passage is indicative of planetary scale change that has severe implications for the earth.  The Arctic is a key component of the global ecosystem.  We need to act quickly and decisively to stem human induced change at this scale -- not only for the Arctic and the people who call it home, but for all of humanity.”


Available for interviews:


Captain Edward R. Cassano – A former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Corps Officer and NOAA Research Vessel Captain and manager of the U.S. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.  Ed has led or participated in over a hundred research voyages through the waters of the Atlantic, Caribbean, Pacific and Bering Sea.  As Vice President of Programs and Exhibits at the Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, CA), he oversaw the aquarium’s education, exhibit and husbandry departments.  Captain Cassano opened and ran the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and has extensive expertise in delivering content to diverse audiences through interactive and media-based exhibits.


Ed also recently co-directed an expedition to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands as Vice President of Exploration and Expeditions for Jean-Michel Cousteau.  This expedition aired on PBS in April 2006 as the premiere of a new series and was cited by President Bush as a key factor in declaring this area a national monument in June 2006, making it the world’s largest marine protected area.


About InMER

Integrated Marine Education Research Expeditions (InMER), is a non-profit organization focused on marine conservation and tackling the planet’s most challenging issue, global warming.  Our main focus is a four year project titled Northwest Passage 2007 - 2010 that, at its core, is a social change initiative designed to influence and build sustainable communities in North America. 


InMER is a team of educators, policy specialists, filmmakers and scientists that has developed an integrated model of conservation designed to reach millions of people and engage them in a dialogue on pressing environmental issues.  Built around the excitement and sense of discovery of a scientifically oriented expedition, the InMER model combines and integrates social marketing, public relations, policy dialogues, educational programming, outreach activities and products to achieve specific goals within a targeted audience or audiences.


InMER expeditions are voyages for the new millennium, grounded in the disciplines of old, and propelled by the technologies of today, projecting into the global consciousness the imperative of a vision of a sustainable future.

[1] Delgado, Jim “Across the Top of the World”