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Spring 2014

with cave diver Jill Heinerth

(Photo: Robert McClellan)

As one of the world’s most skilled technical cave divers, Canadian Jill Heinerth has set diving records and encountered extremes the world over. But nothing prepared her for what she encountered exploring the cave systems inside Antarctica’s giant icebergs. Take the plunge and join us for an epic talk on undersea exploration and adventure by Heinerth, winner of the Society’s prestigious Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration.

Event hashtag is #RCGStalks

Read about this event: Top Canadian cave diver shares the wonders and dangers of the underwater world

Wednesday, April 30
at 7:00pm

Canada Aviation and Space Museum
11 Aviation Parkway, Ottawa

Tickets are $15 and are available at

Jill Heinerth drives a digital wall mapper used to map caves in 3D on a past expedition. (Photo: Courtesy of the U.S. deep caving team)

Underwater cave explorer to open 2014 RCGS Speaker Series

She’s pushed farther into deep underwater caves than any woman before her.

Now, explorer Jill Heinerth is kicking off this year’s Royal Canadian Geographical Society Speaker Series with a talk about diving the caves in Antarctica’s icebergs.

Heinerth, who received the Society’s 2013 Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration, will share tales of what life is like in one of the coldest places in the world, including how she spent days around icebergs and the wildlife that lurks beneath them. The event takes place on April 30 at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa.

Heinerth joins the ranks of prominent past speakers, including Angry Planet host George Kourounis, wildlife photographer Paul Nicklen and climatologist David Phillips.

Although she used to have a successful career in graphic design and advertising, Heinerth traded her business suit for a wetsuit and became a worldrenowned cave diver.

Combining her technical and artistic skills, she’s made documentaries for PBS and the Discovery Channel, her photography has been published in magazines and newspapers, and she has written three books on cave diving and underwater photography.

— Siobhan McClelland

World-renowned cave diver Jill Heinerth

Jill Heinerth regales the RCGS’s speaker series audience in Ottawa with tales of her cave-diving exploits. (Photo: Jessica Burtnick)

Explorers need to embrace failure if they want to succeed.

That was the message Jill Heinerth, the world-renowned cave diver and a filmmaker, relayed to a packed house at the Canada Space and Aviation Museum in Ottawa during The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s Speaker Series event on April 30.

Heinerth, who’s gone farther into deep underwater caves than any woman in history, and last year won the Society’s Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration, told stories of discovery, determination and near-death experiences while cave diving. But the bulk of the evening’s discussion was about Ice Island, a documentary film about the first people to cave dive inside an Antarctic iceberg, which Heinerth wrote, produced and appears in.

Heinerth, who has a background in fine arts, said filmmaking and photography ended up being the best way to blend her creative interests with her desire to be underwater.

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