The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 was the largest marine oil spill in history.
A young woman flew over it on a trip back from a diving adventure in the Caribbean — and it stirred something in her.
She was inspired, and wanted to inspire others to appreciate the natural life around us.
The journey that followed recently brought her to the Straits — Corey Adkins introduces us to her in today’s Sightseeing in Northern Michigan.
Jennifer Idol is preparing to dive down to the bottom of the Straits to check out the shipwreck William Young.
She’s a professional diver and photographer, and this day, she’s added a new title to her list of accomplishments.
"Today marks the 50th dive in my 50 state journey in the last five years. I still can’t believe it’s done," says Jennifer.
She is the only woman to scuba dive in all 50 states. Michigan was the last on her list.
"The Great Lakes is a big dive. It’s something divers dream of doing because the wrecks here are stunning. They are perfectly preserved wooden wrecks. Sometimes they’re crushed and hardly recognizable, but here I can capture full ships with bows and sterns and things that look like ships," explains Jennifer.
Her goal was to find the best of every state, and encourage everyone to do the same.
"I want people to be proud of America. I want them to take pride in the areas around them and the beauty of the natural geography of our country. This is a magnificent place and it’s the geography that really sets us apart from other countries. And allow us to enjoy some of the freedoms we have," says Jennifer.
While our state has its obvious draws as a diver — in other places, you had to look a little harder — like Nebraska.
"Dove the Sandy Creek Recreation Area, which is basically some holes in the ground they dug out to build a highway, and it still smells like the highway, but it’s actually a popular dive site, and I found a bunch of fish and got some great macro photography there," says Jennifer.
Or other land-locked states.
"Other inland waters like Tennessee are surprising, they have a quarry and in that quarry you can find extraordinary things like paddlefish."
She finds beauty no matter where she goes.
"I really like wide angle photography, I like seeing sea-scapes, I like seeing the big picture, understanding the structure on how everything works. As far as subject matter, I like everything from wildlife to cave environments to wrecks, I’m looking for the best out of every environment."
And today she certainly found it.
"We dove through about 50 feet of hard visibility before we were able to see the wreck, but once it opened up, it’s pretty significant to see a 100 foot wreck lying below you in pristine condition. Down at about 120 feet you can reach the bottom and we dove directly toward the bow, so by diving toward the bow, I like to get an idea of the shape of the ship," she explains.
Almost a bittersweet day — after 5 years of travel, diving, camping, exploring and exhaustion, Jennifer has reached her goal.
She’s writing a book about it, and no doubt planning her next adventure.
"That’s the thing about a journey, you don’t end up where you start and you get transformed by the experience. You can’t predict where you’ll be or who’ll you’ll be at the end of it, and that’s part of the adventure of doing this."
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