Art under the Arctic Ice


Art Ortolani, AQ.


Art, 62, is a lifelong explorer.  As a member of the Explorers Club of New York, Art’s passions are the High Arctic; the desert Southwest, and nature photography.  Art has been involved in numerous climbing and diving expeditions and photo expeditions, many of which had never been tried or completed before. 

Born in New York, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in1963, serving two tours of duty in Vietnam.  He then enlisted in the United States Coast Guard were he was Stationed in Puerto Rico, making his first dive in 1974.  Since that time he has made thousands of dives all around the world. Art is a fourth level scuba instructor with MDEA and is certified to evaluate and certify instructors. 

In the course of his instruction, Art created a world record.  In April 2003, he certified four students who were new to diving by conducting the world’s first all-underwater dive class.  Students were put through practicals and a quick resort course to get into an underwater habitat 28 feet below the surface.  Once there, Art taught the classroom material throughout a 17-hour dive at the bottom of the sea floor.  When the students surfaced, they were fully certified as level one diver.   Due to its uniqueness, the experience was written up in Florida SCUBA News (December 2003, page 24). 

Art co-founded the Nexus project, which pioneered long-distance education from remote locations via satellite and the internet. On of the Nexus projects conducted in conjunction with producer James Cameron, Sea World, and NASA, Art expedited the first satellite transmission from the High Arctic to the ocean floor in Key Largo, Florida.  Inuit students from the Arctic spoke to James Cameron via satellite from the steps of a small school in Pond Inlet on the north side of Baffin Island, expanding the cutting edge of technology. Before most people were even using the internet, Art carried a satellite dish, laptop, and generator into the back country of Southern Utah, transmitting a government-sponsored dinosaur dig into 600 USA schools so that students could watch the dinosaur being excavated from its rocky grave. 

Art has also led the most extreme class trip ever.  A half-dozen high school students made a trek from Islamorada Florida to the high Arctic, where each student had a project to complete.  Art even taught several students how to snorkel in 33-degree water.  Art also with his brother Dan initiated a project in Mesa Verde, Colorado, with eight students from the US and Canada.  These students were the first to be allowed to do a research project with famous archeologist Fred Blackburn in the famous Cliff Palace.  Lastly, Art and Dan organized an expedition to Africa with high school students from the US and Canada to climb Mt Kilimanjaro.  It was a total success, both in terms of the climb and the transmission of live updates of the web site from the top of the mountain—again, pushing the cutting edge of technology.

Not only is Art an explorer, he also likes to stay on the cutting edge of personal challenge.  At age 56, Art won a medal in the International Police Olympics for the Toughest Cop Alive Contest and for the arm wrestling competition.  And at age 57, he ran 50.6 miles non-stop across Panama as a way to show support for the Florida Special Olympics. 

Currently, Art spends most of his time, continuing to enjoy expeditions when the opportunity arises.  His time in nature recently is spent taking nighttime photography in the far reaches of Southern Utah and diving in the Florida Keys.  Art is truly a one-of-a-kind adventurer, bringing a wealth of expertise and enthusiasm to the Atlantica Expeditions.

Conducted first all undersea dive class.