In a new documentary short for Red Bull, legendary award-winning diver Jill Heinerth shares about what drew her to diving in the first place, what drives her to keep doing it, and what new projects she’s working on alongside her colleagues. With incredible underwater footage, the doc shows Jill and her team working to survey and explore caves and other underground waterways.
This work is important, Jill says, not just because of the discoveries of unique plant and animal life—they often come across organisms that are only found in a single cave on the Earth—but because the research allows for a better understanding of the waterways that connect all across the planet.
Among the various projects of note, Jill highlights an AI-operated cave exploring robot that has recently joined the team. This autonomous surveyor is in the testing phases, with the intention of eventually sending a version to Jupiter’s moon Europa, where it will attempt to map out the liquid ocean beneath the icy surface that covers that distant satellite.
Underpinning all the research, science, and discovery is the way that it all relates back to humanity and our relationship with the planet. Jill talks about the stark impact she’s seen human beings have on the planet with her own eyes over decades as an explorer. Things like coral bleaching and the loss of various species have an impact not only on her work, but on all of us.
“My activities in the underwater world have helped me to grasp a better understanding of the interconnections of all of humanity. What people do on the other side of the planet will ultimately come to affect us. The same is true for our water systems, the same is true for climate change. Maybe interconnectivity is the most important concept that we all need to grasp hold of for the next generation.”
More people have walked on the moon than have visited many of the places that Jill Heinerth has seen on Earth. From the most dangerous technical dives deep inside underwater caves, to searching for never-before-seen ecosystems inside giant Antarctic icebergs, Jill’s curiosity and passion about our watery planet is the driving force in her life. In her remarkable presentations, Jill encourages audiences to reach beyond their limitations, challenge the unknown, and overcome their fears, while applying her practical experience when it comes to lessons on risk management, discovery learning, failure, and collaboration strategies.