Principal Underwater Photographer
A bilingual resident of Montréal, Jo-Ann Wilkins is an underwater photographer, dive instructor, writer and cold-water expedition leader. Jo-Ann is passionate about the Canadian underwater world.
An avid scuba diver, she became a PADI dive instructor at 20 years old and shortly after, she founded her own dive expedition company Plongée Scubamax. She, along with her husband, took hundreds of divers on dive expeditions of the magnificent and historic wrecks of the St-Lawrence River, Lake Ontario and Lake Huron. She organized and led many group dive expeditions to cold water destinations such as Alaska, British Columbia, Percé, Rimouski, Les Escoumins and the California Channel Islands. Jo-Ann also had the chance to explore the underwater world of Haida Gwaii and document it’s pristine underwater beauty.
Academically, Jo-Ann holds a B.A. in psychology with first class honors and from McGill University, a M.Sc. from Université de Montréal with a prized thesis from the Canadian Psychology Association and a graduate diploma in business from HEC Montréal. She also completed training in photography at College Marsan.
In 2016, Jo-Ann was selected to be part of the Sedna Epic Expedition as an underwater photographer to document the expedition that would deliver ocean knowledge and mobilization to Inuit youth, girls & Elders, via running underwater robot-building workshops and an ocean mentorship program for 10 Inuit girls and young women, which included leading snorkel safaris in Frobisher Bay.
In 2018, Jo-Ann documented the scuba diving certifications of two Sedna team members, Inuit women, ages 20 and 21. She photographed their journey from pool exams in Toronto to their PADI Open Water Certifications in the St. Lawrence River near Brockville.
In November 2019, Jo-Ann joins the Sedna Epic Expedition—as the principal photographer—to Norway’s northern fjords, some 350 kilometres above the Arctic Circle. She’s to document Team Sedna’s sea women conducting oceanographic studies and snorkeling with Orcas and Humpbacks during the winter herring run.
Jo-Ann was also selected to be one of the photographers to take part in the epic Canada C3 expedition marking Canada’s 150th anniversary as part of Leg 3 (Baie Comeau to Charlestown). As part of that expedition, she documented—via underwater images—the scientists collecting data in Anticosti Island. Many of her images were published in the book Canada C3 – Connecting Canadians – Coast to Coast to Coast.
Her work as a Canadian cold-water photographer has been recognized internationally in photo competitions and her images have been published in renowned magazines and publications such as Scuba Diving Magazine, Scuba Diver, Sport Diver, RedBull Online. She has contributed many articles and images to the Canadian magazine En Profondeurand provided online contributions to popular underwater photography resources such as Under Water Photography Guide. She was featured in the unique Canadian underwater exposition Aquart and is an underwater photographer for the rapidly growing Canadian swim school franchise Water Babies.
Now a proud mom of two energetic young boys, she has found a wonderful way to share her passion for the Canadian underwater world by engaging with children and presenting regularly in primary schools. She teaches children about underwater conservation, the beauty of our Canadian waters, the history of our spectacular local freshwater wrecks and the diversity of our underwater ecosystems.