Jill Heinerth

Last updated

Jill Heinerth
Jill Heinerth
Born1965 [1]
Toronto, Canada
Occupation Cinematographer, explorer, cave diver
Spouse(s)Paul Heinerth, [2] Robert McClellan [3]
Website www.intotheplanet.com

Jill Heinerth is a Canadian cave diver, underwater explorer, writer, photographer and film-maker. [4] She has made TV series for PBS, National Geographic Channel and the BBC, consulted on movies for directors including James Cameron, written several books and produced documentaries including We Are Water [5] and Ben's Vortex , about the disappearance of Ben McDaniel.

PBS Public television network in the United States

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster and television program distributor. It is a nonprofit organization and the most prominent provider of educational television programming to public television stations in the United States, distributing series such as American Experience, America's Test Kitchen, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Barney & Friends, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Downton Abbey, Finding Your Roots, Frontline, The Magic School Bus, Masterpiece, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Nature, Nova, the PBS NewsHour, Sesame Street, Teletubbies, and This Old House.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. It employs over 20,950 staff in total, 16,672 of whom are in public sector broadcasting. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff are included.

James Cameron Canadian film director

James Francis Cameron is a Canadian filmmaker and environmentalist who currently lives in New Zealand and the United States. After working in special effects, he found major success since directing and writing the science fiction action film The Terminator (1984). He then became a popular Hollywood director and was hired to write and direct Aliens (1986); three years later he followed up with The Abyss (1989). He found further critical acclaim for his use of special effects in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). After his film True Lies (1994), Cameron took on his biggest film at the time, Titanic (1997), which earned him Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing.


Early life and education

Jill Heinerth diving Jill Heinerth diving.jpg
Jill Heinerth diving

As a child, Heinerth was inspired by Jacques Cousteau's television series. In 5th grade, she gave a Science Fair project about mysterious disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle. [6] She gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications Design at York University, and ran a small graphic design agency in Toronto while teaching scuba in Lake Huron's port of Tobermory in the evenings. [6]

Jacques Cousteau French inventor of open circuit scuba, pioneer diver, author, film-maker and marine researcher

Jacques-Yves Cousteau, was a French naval officer, explorer, conservationist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of life in water. He co-developed the aqua-lung, pioneered marine conservation and was a member of the Académie française.

Bermuda Triangle Region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle or Hurricane Alley, is a loosely defined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Most reputable sources dismiss the idea that there is any mystery.

York University University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

York University is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is Canada's third-largest university, and it has approximately 55,700 students, 7,000 faculty and staff, and over 300,000 alumni worldwide. It has eleven faculties, including the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Faculty of Science, Lassonde School of Engineering, Schulich School of Business, Osgoode Hall Law School, Glendon College, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Health, Faculty of Environmental Studies, Faculty of Graduate Studies, the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design, and 28 research centres.


In 1991, Heinerth sold her business and moved to the Cayman Islands to dive full-time, honing skills in underwater photography. [6] She then moved to Florida to work on cave diving, where she was mentored by documentary filmmaker Wes Skiles. [6] She collaborated with his Karst Productions, based in High Springs, Florida. [1]

Cayman Islands British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean

The Cayman Islands are an autonomous British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean Sea. The 264-square-kilometre (102-square-mile) territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which are located to the south of Cuba and northeast of Honduras, between Jamaica and Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. As of spring 2018, the population of the Cayman Islands was estimated to be 64,420 making it the second-most populated British overseas territory after Bermuda. The capital city is George Town, situated on Grand Cayman, by far the most populous of the three islands.

Cave diving Underwater diving in water-filled caves

Cave diving is underwater diving in water-filled caves. It may be done as an extreme sport, a way of exploring flooded caves for scientific investigation, or for the search for and recovery of divers lost while diving for one of these reasons. The equipment used varies depending on the circumstances, and ranges from breath hold to surface supplied, but almost all cave diving is done using scuba equipment, often in specialised configurations with redundancies such as sidemount or backmounted twinset. Recreational cave diving is generally considered to be a type of technical diving due to the lack of a free surface during large parts of the dive, and often involves decompression.

High Springs, Florida City in Florida, United States

High Springs is a city in Alachua County, Florida, United States. The population was 5,350 at the 2010 census.

In 1998, Heinerth was part of the team that made the first 3D map of an underwater cave. [7] Heinerth became the first person to dive the ice caves of Antarctica, penetrating further into an underwater cave system than any woman ever [5] [ dead link ] In 2001, she was part of a team that explored ice caves of icebergs. [8] where she and her then husband Paul Heinerth "discovered wondrous life and magical vistas" and experienced the calving of an iceberg, documented in the film Ice Island. [9]

Antarctica Polar continent in the Earths southern hemisphere

Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14,200,000 square kilometres, it is the fifth-largest continent and nearly twice the size of Australia. At 0.00008 people per square kilometre, it is by far the least densely populated continent. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages 1.9 km in thickness, which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Ice cave

An ice cave is any type of natural cave that contains significant amounts of perennial (year-round) ice. At least a portion of the cave must have a temperature below 0 °C (32 °F) all year round, and water must have traveled into the cave’s cold zone.

In 2015, Heinerth participated in exploring the numerous anchialine caves of Christmas Island. [10]

Christmas Island Australian external territory

The Territory of Christmas Island is an Australian external territory comprising the island of the same name. Christmas Island is located in the Indian Ocean, around 350 kilometres (220 mi) south of Java and Sumatra and around 1,550 kilometres (960 mi) north-west of the closest point on the Australian mainland. It has an area of 135 square kilometres (52 sq mi).

She consults on training programmes for diving agencies, publishes photojournalism in a range of magazines and speaks around the world. [6]

Personal life

Heinerth was married to cave diver Paul Heinerth. [2] As of 2012, her second husband is writer, photographer and new media expert Robert McClellan, [3] with whom she lives in Ontario, Canada.[ citation needed ] Heinerth has described her hobbies as hiking, kayaking and gardening; "My favorite pastime is getting up at dawn and cycling to my local spring where a robust swim against the current of the Santa Fe River starts my day on the right track." [6]




She has produced TV series for PBS, National Geographic Channel, Discovery channel and the BBC, consulted on movies for directors including James Cameron. She has produced documentaries including We Are Water [5] [11] and Ben's Vortex. [12]


Heinerth is a member of the Explorers Club, a fellow of the National Speleological Society, and she has been inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame. [6] She won the OZTek Media Award in March 2013. [13] In November 2013, she was awarded the first ever Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. [4]

In June 2016, Heinerth was named as the first Explorer-in-Residence for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. [14]

In January 2017, the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences announced that Jill Heinerth was to become a 2017 AUAS Fellow by receiving an NOGI Award for ‘Sports & Education’. [15]

Later that year, on 7 March 2017, the Governor General of Canada announced that Jill Heinerth was to receive the Canadian Polar Medal. [16]

In March 2018 Jill Heinerth was awarded the Beneath The Sea Diver of the Year (Education) Award. [17]

Related Research Articles

Scuba diving Using bottled air to swim underwater

Scuba diving is a mode of underwater diving where the diver uses a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba), which is completely independent of surface supply, to breathe underwater. Scuba divers carry their own source of breathing gas, usually compressed air, allowing them greater independence and freedom of movement than surface-supplied divers, and longer underwater endurance than breath-hold divers. Although the use of compressed air is common, a new mixture called enriched air (Nitrox) has been gaining popularity due to its benefit of reduced nitrogen intake during repetitive dives. Open circuit scuba systems discharge the breathing gas into the environment as it is exhaled, and consist of one or more diving cylinders containing breathing gas at high pressure which is supplied to the diver through a regulator. They may include additional cylinders for range extension, decompression gas or emergency breathing gas. Closed-circuit or semi-closed circuit rebreather scuba systems allow recycling of exhaled gases. The volume of gas used is reduced compared to that of open circuit, so a smaller cylinder or cylinders may be used for an equivalent dive duration. Rebreathers extend the time spent underwater compared to open circuit for the same gas consumption; they produce fewer bubbles and less noise than open circuit scuba which makes them attractive to covert military divers to avoid detection, scientific divers to avoid disturbing marine animals, and media divers to avoid bubble interference.

Zale Parry American pioneer scuba diver, underwater photographer and actress

Rosalia (Zale) Parry is an American pioneer scuba diver, underwater photographer and actress.

Diver navigation Underwater navigation by scuba divers

Diver navigation, termed "underwater navigation" by scuba divers, is a set of techniques—including observing natural features, the use of a compass, and surface observations—that divers use to navigate underwater. Free-divers do not spend enough time underwater for navigation to be important, and surface supplied divers are limited in the distance they can travel by the length of their umbilicals and are usually directed from the surface control point. On those occasions when they need to navigate they can use the same methods used by scuba divers.

The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame (ISDHF) is an annual event that recognizes those who have contributed to the success and growth of recreational scuba diving in dive travel, entertainment, art, equipment design and development, education, exploration and adventure. It was founded in 2000 by the Cayman Islands Ministry of Tourism. Currently, it exists virtually with plans for a physical facility to be built at a future time.

American Canadian Underwater Certifications Recreational diver training and certification agency

ACUC, American and Canadian Underwater Certifications Inc. is an international recreational diving membership and diver training organization. Formerly known as the Association of Canadian Underwater Councils, it was formed as a not for profit collective of regional dive councils to create a national forum for their common interest and concerns. It soon began developing a training curriculum better suited to the Canadian conditions that many other training agencies neglected. It was later incorporated in 1986 in Canada by Robert Cronkwright. Cronkwright was a National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) instructor from 1969 to 1971. In 1971 he crossed over to the Association of Canadian Underwater Councils and became a Training Director, Secretary/Treasurer and later Vice President of the Association (1972–1984). He was also Training Director for the Ontario Underwater Council (OUC) in the 1970s.

American Nitrox Divers International Recreational diver training and certification agency

American Nitrox Divers International was founded by Ed Betts and Dick Rutkowski in 1988.

Global Underwater Explorers Recreational/technical scuba training and certification agency

Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) is a scuba diving organization that provides education within recreational, technical, and cave diving. It is a nonprofit membership organization based in High Springs, Florida, United States.

Bret Gilliam Pioneering technical diver and author.

Bret Clifton Gilliam is a pioneering technical diver. He is most famous as the founder of TDI, and as the one time holder of the world record for deep diving on air. He is also one of diving's most popular writers.

Jarrod Michael Jablonski is a pioneering technical diver and record setting cave diver. Jablonski is one of the main architects behind the 'Doing It Right' system of diving.

Wesley C. Skiles was an American cave diving pioneer, explorer, and underwater cinematographer. Skiles lived in High Springs, Florida.

Agnes Milowka Australian cave diver

Agnes Milowka was an Australian technical diver, underwater photographer, author, maritime archaeologist and cave explorer. She gained international recognition for penetrating deeper than previous explorers into cave systems across Australia and Florida, and as a public speaker and author on the subjects of diving and maritime archaeology. She died aged 29 while diving in a confined space.

R. T. "Phil" Nuytten is a Canadian entrepreneur, deep-ocean explorer, scientist, inventor of the Newtsuit, and founder of Nuytco Research Ltd.

The NOGI Awards is an award presented annually by the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences to diving luminaries and is "considered the Oscar of the ocean world." Selection of recipients is based on their record of accomplishments and excellence in the diving world. NOGI awards are given out to world-class standouts of the diving community who have distinguished themselves and made a global impact on diving in one or more of four general categories: Science, Arts, Sports/Education, and Environment. A fifth NOGI is given for Distinguished Service.

Hillary Rika Hauser is an American photojournalist and environmental activist with a focus on the oceans — underwater diving adventure, politics, and conservation. In 2009, in recognition of her ocean environmental work as it relates to underwater diving, Hauser received the NOGI Award for Distinguished Service from the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences. In 2013 the Academy elected Hauser as president of its board of directors.

Edd Sorenson is a technical cave diver known for numerous rescues of lost or trapped divers in the underwater caves of Florida particularly in Vortex Spring and Blue Spring State Park.

Disappearance of Ben McDaniel Scuba diver who disappeared during or after a cave dive

On August 20, 2010, employees in the dive shop at Vortex Spring, north of Ponce de Leon, Florida, United States, noticed that a pickup truck had remained in the shop's parking lot for the previous two days. It belonged to Ben McDaniel, a Tennesseean who had been diving regularly at the spring while living in his parents' nearby beach house. He had last been seen by two of those employees on the evening of August 18, on a dive entering a cave 58 feet (18 m) below the water's surface. While he was initially believed to have drowned on that dive, and his parents still strongly believe his body is in an inaccessible reach of the extensive cave system, no trace of him has ever been found. Despite this, the state of Florida issued his family a death certificate in 2013.

Outline of underwater diving Hierarchical outline list of articles related to underwater diving

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to underwater diving:

Index of underwater divers Alphabetical listing of articles about underwater divers

The following index is provided as an overview of and topical guide to underwater divers:


  1. 1 2 Mark Schrope (1 October 2003). "Deep Transmissions Armed with a revolutionary new tracking device, cave divers map threats to Florida's main water source". Outside Online. Mariah Media Network LLC. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  2. 1 2 Jill Heinerth (2003). "Ice Island". Advanced Diver magazine. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  3. 1 2 "Jill Heinerth Loves The Places Where Her Friends Have Gone To Die". Filmcourage. 9 March 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  4. 1 2 Ghomeshi, Jian. "Best of Q: Cave diver Jill Heinerth on fear management". cbc.ca. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014.
  5. 1 2 3 Andrews, Avital (14 December 2012). "My Perfect Adventure: Jill Heinerth". Outside Online.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Jill Heinerth : OceanAGE Career Profile". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA). 29 March 2013.
  7. Yundt, Heather (2013). "Jill Heinerth Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration". Canadian Geographic. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014.
  8. Kendrick, DF (2009). "Science of the National Association for Cave Diving (NACD): Water Quality, Hydrogeology, Biology and Psychology". In: Pollock NW, ed. Diving for Science 2009. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences 28th Symposium. Dauphin Island, AL. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  9. Jennifer Goldblatt (13 November 2002). "Explorers' film wins top honor". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  10. Iliffe T, Humphreys W (2016). "Christmas Islands Hidden Secret". Advanced Diver Magazine. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  11. Heinerth, Jill (Actor, Director, Narrator, Host); McClellan, Robert (Producer) (1 January 2013). We are Water (DVD). Heinerth Productions, Inc. ISBN   0979878993. Archived from the original on 20 March 2016.
  12. Jill Heinerth (Director) (2012). Ben's Vortex (DVD). Heinerth Productions, Inc. ISBN   0979878985. Archived from the original on 20 March 2016.
  13. Rosemary E Lunn Tech talk: Tales of ‘Daring Do’ Xraymag, issue 54, May 2013, p.58
  14. Royal Canadian Geographical Society June 2016
  15. Rosemary E Lunn Jill Heinerth To Receive 2017 NOGI for ‘Sports & Education’ Deeperblue.com, 10 January 2017.
  16. Rosemary E Lunn Jill Heinerth To Receive Canadian Polar Medal X-Ray Magazine
  17. Rosemary E Lunn Bozanic, Burroughs, Hasson, Heinerth and HDSUSA honoured with Beneath The Sea Awards X-Ray Magazine