Inspiration below the Surface – Celebrating PADI Women’s Dive Day
For this year’s PADI Women’s Dive Day, we are celebrating the inspirational work of three very different women. An explorer who challenges us to look inside ourselves and find our adventurous spirit, a millennial utilising social media to show us we can chase our dreams and a photographer who inspires us with her sensitive images of the ocean’s inhabitants. What brings them together is their personal missions to encourage us to care more about the planet.
When someone asks who is the modern-day Jacques Cousteau, the answer as far as we are concerned, is easy. Jill Heinerth has been to parts of this planet that have seen fewer people than the surface of the moon. She’s dived in some of the most unlikely places, from the systems supplying the drinking water of Floridian cities, to the underground lakes in the Sahara Desert. However, cave-diving in a free-floating iceberg diving an early rebreather, whilst making a film for National Geographic has to go down as the most extreme diving we’ve heard of. Jill’s “We Are Water” project highlighted the relationship of people with water, including the water they drank, played in and used to take away their waste. The results were a mesmerising call to action that is well worth a watch. Jill is the inaugural Explorer in Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and continues to push the boundaries in her diving. Her forthcoming book “Into The Planet” is a thrilling account of her life as a cave diver. You can read a small excerpt of it here. It goes on sale in the USA next month.
“Cave divers are another breed, which I never truly understood; that was until I met Jill Heinerth on a cave diving trip off Santa Cruz Island and had a chance to read her new book “Into the Planet”, which helped to explain it all! A Must Read!” — Dr. Robert D. Ballard – Discoverer of the RMS TITANIC
Known to her friends simply as Scuba Sarah, this woman has inspired us with the single-minded pursuit of her dreams. A dive instructor from Quebec in Canada, Sarah decided to use her influence on Instagram to highlight conservation issues and to try to inspire others to protect the ocean. After living on a diet of instant noodles to save the money, she set out to dive in all seven continents, documenting the ups and downs of her adventures as well the beauty of the ocean and some of its threats. We followed her Instagram stories and can’t wait to see what she has in store next. No doubt it will be focussed on inspiring us all to care more and do more for our environment.
Ellen Cuylaerts is a multi-award-winning photographer, originally from Belgium, and now based in Grand Cayman. Her photos have been featured in galleries and publications around the world as she seeks to bridge a deeper connection between humanity and nature. Her images often capture fragile and fleeting interactions with the ocean’s denizens, finding almost human-like eye contact from some of the most unlikely creatures and drawing the viewer into to a more intimate underwater world. She has increasingly become an advocate of the oceans, using her voice to highlight some of the issues faced by our blue planet and having presented at the United Nations World Oceans Day, she is now part of the organising team.