UNITED BY OUR PASSION

We are three generations of marine scientists, connected through marine research and education. Isabelle, a world renowned marine ecologist, was Chantale’s PhD advisor and had a big impact on her ideas in marine ecology and conservation. Noelle and Lauren met while studying coral reef ecology during a field course in Curaçao – that was taught by Chantale! Our paths have all remained intertwined over the years, united by a passion for marine conservation. We have committed our lives to understanding, protecting, and sharing our passion for the Ocean. Competing in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is one more platform for us to draw attention to ocean protection, and to support the people and organizations on the front lines of the fight for our ocean.

Four marine scientists rowing across an ocean, for the oceans

chantale begin

Chantale Bégin

MARINE SCIENTIST, EDUCATOR, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER

Chantale grew up in Québec, Canada. When she was 16 years old, after a random chance at going down to 800ft deep in the St. Lawrence Estuary in the submersible Clelia, she decided she wanted to be a marine biologist. This idea took her to Dalhousie University where she studied invasive seaweeds on the Nova Scotia coast, Université Laval where she studied invertebrate communities associated with kelp beds in the northern Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and eventually Simon Fraser University where she researched the impact of changing land use and sedimentation rates on the coral reefs of the Eastern Caribbean.

Along the way as she forged her path as a marine biologist, Chantale figured out that she really likes teaching—and good adventures. It largely started in her role as park interpreter at Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia; and eventually as a marine science instructor with Sea|mester sailing extensively throughout the Eastern Caribbean, then Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, and the South Pacific. Her teaching also took her to the Nunavut Arctic College—working with the Inuit Community in Pond Inlet.

Now as a Senior Instructor at the University of South Florida (USF) and a National Geographic Explorer with two awesome kids—Zoë and Exie—Chantale likes new challenges like sailing offshore with seasick toddlers and teaching students how to do research and monitoring in coral reef ecosystems. She has lots of experience paddling outrigger canoes in Moorea, Vancouver and Florida, but no real experience rowing quite yet. After years of sailing across oceans, it seems like rowing across the Atlantic for marine conservation causes is a great blend of her ocean-going experience, sense of adventure and lifelong dedication to marine conservation.

Noelle Helder

MARINE ECOLOGIST, GUIDE, TYPE II FUN ENTHUSIAST

Noelle hails from small town North Carolina, USA. Beach vacations along the Carolina coast just weren’t enough time near the sea. She made the move south to attend the University of South Florida to major in biology, where she studied jaw mechanics in baby sharks, became a SCUBA divermaster and scientific diver, and outdoor adventure guide. She also attended a study abroad course in Curaçao – where she immediately befriended Lauren and their instructor, Chantale.

After graduation, Noelle discovered that she was just at home in the mountains as she was on the water. She spent the next two years jumping from seasonal guiding work in Alaska to research stations throughout the Caribbean and even dabbled in wine making in Oregon.

Noelle just finished her master’s degree at the University of Alberta where she studies fish community dynamics on coral reefs. She’s now heading to the Alaska Center for Energy and Power in Fairbanks, Alaska, as a 2021-2022 SeaGrant Fellow.

Although new to rowing, Noelle is stoked to combine her passion for marine conservation with some solid Type II fun by rowing across the Atlantic. She is excited to be a part of this science dream team, working towards this mission with women that have inspired her throughout her career.

Noelle Helder
Isabelle Côté

Isabelle Côté

PROFESSOR OF MARINE ECOLOGY, RUNNER, SWIMMER

Isabelle was born to a family of fishermen, sailors and captains, so a career in or on the water was almost inevitable. She was a competitive swimmer for a decade, but learning to scuba dive partway through her undergraduate degree in marine biology at McGill University really sealed her fate. She remembers the amazement of seeing her very first fish underwater – a yellow perch – like it was yesterday. As a senior, she jumped at the chance of doing her honours research on sea urchins at McGill’s tropical field station in Barbados. This was another turning point, as it triggered a life-long passion for coral reefs and their inhabitants.

After short stints studying bowhead whale feeding and walrus vocalisations in the Canadian Arctic, she returned to Barbados to do her MSc on the mating patterns of lovely coral reef fish called redlip blennies. Her PhD on the social behaviour of bluegill sunfish was a brief detour into temperate freshwaters. Upon landing her first faculty position at the University of East Anglia, England, she developed a strong program on Caribbean coral reef ecology and conservation. This research continued when she became Professor of Marine Ecology at Simon Fraser University, Canada, and it has now expanded to cold-water coastal ecosystems.

Her research over the past 30 years has made an impressive contribution to our understanding of marine ecosystems and how they are affected by human activities. She pioneered the use meta-analyses to assess changes in Caribbean coral reef ecosystems, was one of the first scientists to study the impact of the lionfish invasion in the Caribbean, and is now leading research that sheds light into how marine ecosystems may respond to the combination of local stressors and climate change.​ Isabelle has published nearly 200 scientific papers and earned numerous accolades for her work, including the Murray A. Newman Award, a Leopold Leadership Fellowship and a Marsh Award for Conservation Biology. In recent years, science communication has become another passion. She strives to share the results of her research to broad audiences and engage with leaders in the public and private sectors, so that her applied research can lead to actions that help oceans.

Isabelle is the proud mum of two amazing young women – Geneviève, an MSc student in forest ecology, and Catherine, a BFA student in photography and film studies – who are bright, kind and tread lightly on the planet. She still swims in the warmer half of the year in local lakes and in the Salish Sea, and is an avid trail runner with a handful of ultras under her belt. She canoes and kayaks and is planning on learning to row very soon! She feels very strongly that age is just a state of mind.

Lauren Shea

MARINE BIOLOGIST, SAILOR, AND DIVING INSTRUCTOR

Growing up in Florida, Lauren spent most of her time on the water swimming, scuba diving, and surfing. After furthering her diving education aboard a sailboat in the Caribbean, she decided she wanted to study marine biology and began studying for a BSc in Marine Biology at the University of South Florida.

During her first USF field course in Curaçao studying Coral Reef Ecology was when she and Noelle’s friendship blossomed. Not to mention, Chantale was leading the course and quickly became an invaluable mentor and friend to Lauren for years to come.

After working on a variety of projects including fine-scaling marine protected areas in the Falkland Islands, studying eDNA in sediments found in shallow marine habitats in Saudi Arabia, and working to understand how ocean acidification is impacting Florida’s coral reefs during a stint at NOAA, she decided to take up sailing full-time aboard sailing yacht, Argo, a 112’ school ship that takes university students for a semester of experiential learning in marine biology, oceanography, leadership, and nautical science. Her roles on board included being Chief Mate, scuba diving instructor, sailing instructor, provisioner, medic, and first aid instructor. She crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice in 2020, transited the Panama Canal, and then spent 2021 sailing across the Pacific, finishing up her time aboard in Thailand.

Lauren then moved to northern Norway to work as an expedition manager and skipper on sailing expedition yachts in northern Norway and Svalbard. Most recently, she has become a Master’s student at the University of British Columbia where she is conducting research in global fisheries economics.

Lauren Shea

SUPPORT CREW

Cady Hart

Cady Hart

PERFORMANCE COACH

Coach Cady Hart-Petterssen has had a life-long commitment to unlocking human potential. Her time as captain of the UCONN Crew team prepared her for a career in coaching athletes towards excellence in many forms of movement, including CrossFit, Yoga and Rowing. Cady is the Lead Training Advisor at Concept2 and owner of Green Mountain Community Fitness located in Vermont. Contributing to the Salty Scientist’s endeavor is the perfect opportunity to share her depth of training knowledge and understanding of how grit and determination can lead to fantastic feats of performance.

Terri Schneider

SPORT PSYCHOLOGY CONSULTANT

Terri has been literally ‘moving forward’ in the far reaches of the planet for most of her life —via ultrarunning, hiking, triathlon, cycling, adventure racing, mountaineering and adventuring. As a former 10-year professional triathlete turned adventure racer, in the fall of 2011 she led a 4-person expedition traversing the country of Bhutan via a never-been-done route, trekking and mountain biking and while her team shot a documentary film, Crossing Bhutan. She’s earned a degree in Exercise Physiology as well as a masters in Sport Psychology. Terri is the author of several books, with a few more currently in the works. She is super fired-up to work with the Salty Science team, honing their mental game for the upcoming challenge.

Terri

Richella and Kyle Theil

WEBSITE MAGICIANS

Wonder how we have such an awesome website? We have our friends Richella and Kyle to thank! They are the owners of Visual Realm- an amazing web marketing business- and are constantly helping us maintain and update our website and sponsor materials. Immediately after learning about our expedition they offered to create our website and we are constantly amazed by their creativity and skills! Kyle and Richella are very busy with their regular clients at Visual Realm and we’re extremely grateful for the time they donate to help us look good!

Kristen Swindle

FUNDRAISING SUPPORT

Kristen is a friend and neighbor who constantly amazes us by taking on new challenges. When not training for marathons, studying to become a veterinarian, working as a vet tech or hanging out with her two young kids, she generously volunteers her time to help others. Kristen was the architect behind our first fundraiser, the Beer Summit that was held in January 2022 and has helped catalyze our fundraising efforts.

Boomer Baumeister

BOAT SUPPORT

Boomer is the senior captain for the Florida Institute of Oceanography and has spent years at sea on various types of boats. He’s also married to Chantale, and our boat (Emma) has been in their driveway since we got her in March 2022 (not to mention that he let us wrap his personal truck in Salty Science swag)! Boomer loves working on boats, and he has spent a ton of time on Emma cleaning, checking out her systems, and fixing small problems to help us get her in perfect condition for the crossing. Boomer has trailered Emma more miles for various events than all of us combined!

Lindsey Stigleman

PHOTOGRAPHER

Lindsey, the lead photographer for The Wonder Road, has garnered recognition in numerous publications for her editorial photography. As a mother of four, she dedicates herself to family photography, capturing and preserving memories with her distinctive style for years to come.

Tim Linsell

RACE SOCIAL MEDIA

Tim has been a major fan of Salty Science since its inception. He was actually on the dinghy when Lauren first declared that she would form a team and do the race some day. He is also Lauren’s partner and has spent extensive time at sea while skippering sailing vessels around the world. Early on, Tim jokingly volunteered to be in charge of social media while the team was offshore rowing, but the idea stuck, and he is officially committed. Tim is currently in graduate school at the University of British Columbia studying public policy and global affairs. Look out for his posts starting December 12, 2023!

Amanda Cole

TEAM MANAGER

Amanda is a close friend (and another marine biologist) who as of this year, completed a circumnavigation of the globe while working aboard the sailing vessel that Chantale, Lauren, Noelle, Boomer, and Tim have all worked on! After five years at sea, she has resumed life on land with her dog, Stella, on the East Coast. She will be our team’s main point of contact while we are offshore and help keep our family and friends in the loop. We are so thankful to have her support!

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