Dive the World
Susan Copelas has been a pioneer in women’s diving, youth outreach and environmental protection throughout her 43 years of diving. By founding her own independent scuba instruction business, she has introduced and educated over 2,000 of tomorrow’s leaders in the sport of scuba diving. She has also pushed the boundaries of diving, becoming the first female scuba diver in previously-uncharted waters as part of the first expedition retracing Sir Earnest Shackleton’s 1914 trip to the Antarctic in 2005. Not content with merely observing, she’s partnered with numerous global organizations to lead underwater fish surveys, reef reconstruction, and protection/environmental advocacy efforts. She continues to actively work on creating innovative kids scuba programming, publish articles on diving, and volunteering with charitable missions organizations to give back to the local communities surrounding diving ecosystems.
Susan has made youth outreach and education her life’s work. As a PADI Master SCUBA Diver Trainer and the founder and president of Dive the World Adventures, she has developed strong youth scuba programs with YMCA’s across the Greater Boston region including; Danvers, Beverly, Melrose, Gloucester, Peabody, Lynn, Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill, and Andover. Many of these programs are in conjunction with local community school programs such as Belmont Recreational Department, Department of Community Schools (Andover), Lynnfield Community Schools, University of Massachusetts - Lowell, Gordon College, Gordon Seminary, Andover High School and Brooks School in North Andover. She also has a summer program at various camps throughout the New England area.
Recognizing the unique synergy of scuba diving and scouting, Susan has worked with Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops to integrate scuba diving, undersea exploration and environmental conservation into the educational and growth opportunities offered through scouting. She has developed an extensive program with the Girl Scouts Council of Eastern Massachusetts, Sea Scouts and local Boy Scout troops, totaling over 600 scouts.
Women’s Diving Pioneer
Susan is just as passionate about pushing the boundaries of women’s diving as she is about working with the Next Generation. Throughout her long career, she has created opportunities to go where no woman has gone before, sometimes literally. In 2005, she joined members of National Geographic and film crews from around the world to take part in a historic retracing of Sir Earnest Shackleton’s incredible 1914 voyage to Antarctica. Always first in the water, Susan and her team explored undersea waterscapes, icebergs, caverns and rock formations that had never been seen, charted, explored or photographed ever before. As the first female diver in these virgin waters, she was able to show her team, and the world, that there is no place a woman can’t dive. Several articles about the expedition and the historic people that were part of it have appeared in national publications. See details of the expedition under Antarctica.
Not content with just making history once, Susan was asked by the Maritime Gloucester Museum in Gloucester, MA to be “the”safety diver for their documentary on 100 years of hard-hat diving. As part of their historic filming series, Susan designed, oversaw and implemented the safety procedures, ensuring that modern safety standards were followed in an activity, hard-hat diving, which was originally quite dangerous. To be the first female safety diver responsible for the protection of Mark V hard-hat divers in an epic recreation of an activity that was once exclusively male was a powerful demonstration of the progress that women have made, and continue to make, in the world of scuba diving.
Susan has also dedicated herself to protecting the underwater environment for the youth that she’s instructing, along with all the divers, male and female, that come after her. Locally, she’s worked hands-on with the EPA to protect and study eelgrass ecosystems among coastal construction zones and REEF.org (Reef Environmental Education Foundation) to lead teams of divers in fish counts and other marine protection activities. Globally, she has helped repair damaged coral beds as part of the Elkhorn Coral Restoration Project in Saba, damaged by Tropical Storm Erika,. Susan participated in the Global Explorers Live broadcast from the Caribbean (Dominica), a kids program where local children learn about and interact with undersea life through hands-on experiences, webcast globally to schools and other youth programs all the way up to New England. Passionate about community-based conservation and has traveled extensively worldwide leading expeditions to help communities that have been hit by natural disasters. See relief work section for a complete listing.
Additionally, Susan has led numerous fundraising, outreach, awareness and conservation efforts and events on the behalf of marine ecosystems worldwide including founding Celebrate Women Divers Day which is an annual event now held internationally to recognize, promote and empower women divers world worldwide.