The moment she saw her first iceberg, marine scientist and Switzer Fellow Cassandra Brooks felt a visceral compulsion to protect Antarctica. She helped create the Ross Sea MPA in 2016, and continues to contribute mightily to preserve Antarctica’s icy beauty. Cassandra was recognized as one of five women leaders in Only One's Women Making Waves Series. These five women are changing our communities and our natural world for the better while paving the way for more women to take their rightful place as leaders.
On January 20, 2006, Cassandra Brooks flew from California to Chile’s southernmost tip. She boarded a ship to cross the infamous Drake Passage, often called the “worst ocean in the world,” where a 10-meter swell is considered normal.
Three days into her journey, she came out on deck one blustery morning at dawn. The dark waters were below freezing, and a frigid wind nipped her face. At that moment, she saw her first iceberg, a ghostly finger pointing skyward.
Cassandra fell in love with Antarctica right then.
“I never felt so alive, so humble, and so connected to the entire world around me. I had a visceral compulsion to protect this place.”
Cassandra would go on to contribute mightily to efforts to preserve Antarctica’s icy beauty, performing field research there and working as an Antarctic policy advisor for international conservation organizations. In 2016, she helped create the Ross Sea marine protected area (MPA), the world’s largest such area and among the planet’s healthiest, most diverse, and most productive ecosystems.