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SOI Educator Q&A with Pascale Otis

Pascale Otis has documented numerous SOI expeditions through video, she is the first mate and communications manager onboard the Arctic Tern 1, and has been involved with SOI for many years. We’re thrilled that she’s back onboard this summer’s youth expedition!

 

Tell me about some of the biology research you’ve done both on land and on expeditions?

I did my Masters in animal physiology, studying how Greater Snow Goose goslings use the heat produced by their muscles while walking to stay warm in the Arctic. I later focused my research on understanding how adult birds avoid ending up with frozen feet when they are walking around on snow and ice in the Arctic and Antarctic. The discovery: polar birds have antifreeze proteins in their feet! Happy feet guaranteed for the penguins!

My research interests in the Polar Regions later lead me to join various expedition boats. I have wintered in Antarctica on a sailboat, crossed the South Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans and have spent 3 seasons supporting science and film projects in the Arctic onboard the Arctic Tern I (Students on Ice’s research yacht).

My husband and I are now focusing more on continuing to support good science and education programs around New Zealand, where we’ve been based for the last few years.

 

How did you become interested in videography?

Pascale interviewing a student. Photo (c) M Leduc

Pascale interviewing a student. Photo (c) M Leduc

I started working in the media a long time ago, when I was doing my undergraduate studies. It was a way to pay for some of the research I wanted to do… but then it became quite a passion that I couldn’t let go of. So I learnt the trade by working alongside people who knew what they were doing and eventually started my own production company. We’ve made many web videos, but also kids films and more serious longer documentaries and a few films, including our latest feature-length film about an expedition to the Arctic. The kids version is also quite entertaining.

 

What are some of your most memorable experiences in the Polar Regions?

Wintering in Antarctica was pretty special, but I think going back to where I wintered a few years later was even more special in a way. The Polar Regions have a very special place in my heart.

 

What are some of your favourite SOI memories?

Seeing youth discover things for the first time is always really special for me. It makes me realize how lucky I am to be there with them, seeing these amazing things that most people never get to see in real life.

Having spent so much time in the Polar Regions, sometimes in very isolated conditions and in tight quarters, how do you cope with the conditions?

People often ask me that question. It’s funny because I think when you’re put in that situation, it becomes normal to live like that. I’ve done multiple expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic on small yachts with my husband Grant Redvers (who is also coming on the SOI expedition this year) and we’re not divorced yet… So that must mean we’ve managed to find ways to get along, even when we’re together 24h a day, 7 days a week for months and months!!! I must admit it is nice to be able to have a bit of space from time to time, and we’ve had great opportunities to go outside enjoy the amazing backyard in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Watch the movie if you want to see what life is really like when you are sailing with your husband in some of the most remote places on the planet on a 47-yacht.

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