EPISODE #955

Adventure Upgrade: Going Deep Into Risk, Fear & Awe

Jill Heinerth & Bob Ballard

How to look at danger differently by embracing curiosity, stimulation and learning.
Jill Heinerth & Bob Ballard_1000x1250
Jill Heinerth, above left. Bob Ballard, above right.

In this Episode of The Human Upgrade™...

…two of the most adventurous people on the planet share what they’ve uncovered, faced and learned through exploration of the planet’s deepest waters. From discovering the Titanic to cave diving in places untouched by any other human, Bob Ballard and Jill Heinerth took risks, dove into fear, and came up for air with tremendous new knowledge. Combined, they’ve spent over nine decades searching the seas and documenting their findings.

Canadian Jill Heinerth explores the underwater world as one of the greatest cave divers on the planet. She’s considered this generation’s Jacques Cousteau. She’s completed more than 7,500 dives in her career so far and dived deeper into caves than any woman in history. She became the first person to dive the ice caves of Antarctica, going further into an underwater cave system than any woman ever. She’s gone into places in the world where no one had gone before.

Considered a legend in the diving community, she’s spent more than 30 years in submerged caves around the world partnering with National Geographic, NOAA, and various educational institutions and television networks worldwide. She’s also a writer and award-winning photographer and filmmaker who takes a keen interest in the health of the Earth’s oceans. She’s made TV series, consulted on movies, given TEDtalks and continues to educate kids and adults alike on underwater wonders.

Learn more about Jill’s lifetime of underwater cave diving in her memoir, “Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver.” “We are capable of so much more than we could possibly imagine,” she says.

Bob Ballard explores the vast depths of the oceans uncovering mysteries, proving theories, and revealing artifacts that tell a story about the history of humankind. An oceanographer and marine geologist, he’s led nearly 160 deep-sea expeditions and worked with the Navy on top-secret missions. His underwater career spanning over 60 years began simply enough as a child with a love of California’s Mission Bay tide pools.

He’s gone on to discover ships thought long lost (the RMS Titanic in 1985) and provide extraordinary new understandings and discoveries in marine geology, geophysics, biology, and chemistry. He’s discovered new life-forms, traced ancient trade routes, developed robots that roam the ocean floor, and opened the underwater world to kids through telepresence.

Bob’s recent memoir chronicles his underwater journeys “Into The Deep: A Memoir from the Man Who Found Titanic.” “Just lots of crazy things have happened, and I’m still at it and I’m not going to quit,” he says.

In July 2021, Bob began an expedition to map areas of the Pacific Ocean from the shoreline to the abyss supported by a 10-year $200 million federally funded study. Follow along at  Nautilus Live, Ocean Exploration Trust.

“The wisdom of age has changed things for me. I realized that anything I want to do is possible.”

Jill Heinerth

If you liked this special episode with Jill and Bob, you’ll learn even more from listening to their full podcasts, directly below.

“Earth has had very close calls, but Earth always seems to bounce back,” says Bob Ballard. “And I’m not worried about Earth. Earth’s going to be around for billions of years. Life’s going to be around for billions of years. I’m just not sure the human race is going to be around.”

“The adventure seeker, the novelty seeker, the sensation seeker isn’t necessarily risky in that foolish sort of way,” says Jill Heinerth. “We’re not adrenaline seekers necessarily. It doesn’t mean we’re dangerous. It doesn’t mean were death-wish kind of thing. It just means we’re out and interested in stimulation, learning, curiosity, and new things.”

Enjoy the show!

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  • Jill, you’ve got all this knowledge about diving and what our bodies do, but there’s also something that drives you to go literally into the planet, which by the way, is the name of your book.  – 2:01
  • Bob:
    I told my parents I wanted to be Captain Nemo. Now, thank God, they didn’t laugh at my dream. – 3:50
  • Jillian:
    I got a lot of crap throughout this entire career. It’s a niche sport, within a niche, within a niche, within a niche.  – 6:14
  • Bob:
    I’ve been going where no one has ever been. How can I miss finding things that no one has ever seen before? It’s a piece of cake.  – 9:54
  • Jillian:
    I was the first person to cave dive inside an iceberg. The water is minus 1.8 Celsius or 28 degrees Fahrenheit, so 1/10 of a degree colder, and it would be frozen. – 13:08
  • Bob:
    yeah, there are things that are said, but I’ve had everything, I’ve had a lot of practice at being criticized for popularizing science.  – 15:34
  • Jillian:
    I’m one of the pioneers in what we call re-breather diving. With a re-breather it’s exactly the same gear that you would use to make a space walk from the International Space Station.  – 16:39
  • Bob, What have you done to be as robust as you are at 79?  – 19:31
  • Jillian:
    When I look back on some of the things that I’ve done, some of the things that I’ve survived, I realize that we are capable of so much more than we could possibly imagine.  – 23:16
  • Bob:
    If you go to the United Nations and say, you know how many shipwrecks are there? There’s three to four million. These are chapters of human history. They have stories to tell.  – 24:29
  • Jillian:
    with the whole understanding of plastic oceans and even how we’re acidifying the ocean and changing the global circulation of water around the planet, I realized that there’s no place that’s untouched.  – 27:05

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