National Geographic Events

Speakers Bureau

Kenny Broad Cave Diver, Environmental Anthropologist

Photo: National Geographic (August 2010)

Photograph by Wes C. Skiles

Photo: Kenny Broad
Photograph by Mark Thiessen

In Kenny Broad’s line of work, exploring submerged caves and blue holes, one mistake can equal death. He and his team must take every precaution to avoid such dangers as stirring up sediments that can wipe out visibility, succumbing to nausea as they pass through a toxic layer of hydrogen sulfide, or getting lost in maze-like passageways with a limited supply of diving gasses.

The need to study blue holes is urgent, as they are among the least studied and most threatened habitats on Earth. Over 90 percent of the Earth’s unfrozen fresh water is in underground aquifers. These systems are a source of drinking water for locals, boast a unique biodiversity of microbial and multicellular life that shed light on the evolution of life, and, due to their unique water chemistry, perfectly preserve skeletal remains of long extinct species and indigenous people. Cave formations such as stalagmites can be used to reconstruct climate as the Earth passed in and out of the ice ages, allowing us to better judge the rates and possible impacts of modern changes in climate.

These cave systems—with their reversing tides—can transition from giant rooms to narrow holes that divers must remove all of their gear in order to squeeze through. “You can’t send a remotely operated vehicle in to explore caves because the technology simply doesn’t exist,” he says. “It’s one of the few environments left on the planet where you must physically go to learn about it. It’s great for job security.”

An entertaining and witty presenter, Broad’s work combines the study of risk perception, exploration, and environmental anthropology. His interdisciplinary training includes an M.A. in marine affairs and policy from the University of Miami and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University. He is currently a professor in the University of Miami’s Division of Marine Affairs and Policy and is director of the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. He is also a co-director of the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University. Broad has led or participated in extreme scientific and filmmaking expeditions on every continent—from urban jungles to the deepest caves on the planet—to gather information and samples that shed light on little-known environmental and cultural subjects. He was elected a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2006, a Fellow National of the Explorers Club in 2009, and was selected as the 2011 National Geographic Explorer of the Year. His work was featured as the cover story of the August 2010 issue of National Geographic.

Popular Presentation

Beyond the Invisible: Secrets of the Blue Holes
Take a deep breath and join veteran cave explorer Kenny Broad on a harrowing expedition into some of the most dangerous and scientifically significant places on Earth.

Risk Is Not a Four-Letter Word: Avoiding the Bends in Life
Drawing on his expeditions from around the world, Broad offers an exciting and humorous, yet research-based, set of recommendations for assessing risk and making wise choices in life and business.

Learn More About Kenny
Emerging Explorer Profile
Blue Holes Project
Freshwater Hero Interview
USA Today: Bahamas’ ‘Blue Holes’

Photo: Kenny Broad

Listen to Radio Interview With Kenny Broad

Boyd Matson Interviews Kenny Broad for NG Weekend Radio Show

  • Photo: Kenny Broad
    NGM: Deep Dark Secret (August 2010)

    In cave diving, one mistake could spell doom. Kenny Broad and his team of expert divers attempt to explore underwater caves of the Bahamas, one of the least known and most dangerous places on earth.

    Photograph by Wes C. Skiles

  • Photo: Diver
    Video: Extreme Cave Diving

    Intrepid scientists journey into one of Earth’s most dangerous and beautiful underwater frontiers.

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Sam Abell
   Photographer Photo of Sam Abell
Lynsey Addario
   Photojournalist Photo of Lynsey Addario
Casey Anderson
   Naturalist, TV Host Photo of Casey Anderson
Peter Athans
   Mountaineer, Filmmaker Photo of Peter Athans
Robert Ballard
   Underwater Explorer Photo of Robert Ballard
Brady Barr
   Reptile Expert, TV Host Photo of Brady Barr
Melina Bellows
   Publisher, Editor Photo of Melina Bellows
Lee Berger
   Paleoanthropologist Photo of Lee Berger
Joel K. Bourne Jr.
   Contributing Writer Photo of Joel K. Bourne Jr.
Steve Boyes
   Conservation Biologist Photo of Steve Boyes
Kobie Boykins
   NASA Engineer Photo of Kobie Boykins
John Bredar
   Senior Executive Producer, National Geographic Specials Photo of John Bredar
Kenny Broad
   Cave Diver, Environmental Anthropologist Photo of Kenny Broad
Dan Buettner
   Author, Explorer Photo of Dan Buettner
Bryan Christy
   Investigative Reporter, Fellow Photo of Bryan Christy
Barry Clifford
   Underwater Explorer Photo of Barry Clifford
Jodi Cobb
   Photographer Photo of Jodi Cobb
Michael Davie
   Filmmaker Photo of Michael Davie
Wade Davis
   Cultural Anthropologist, Author Photo of Wade Davis
Dennis Dimick
   Executive Editor, National Geographic Magazine Photo of Dennis Dimick
David Doubilet
   Underwater Photographer Photo of David Doubilet
Sylvia Earle
   Marine Biologist Photo of Sylvia Earle
Andrew Evans
   Travel Journalist Photo of Andrew Evans
John Francis
   Planetwalker, Conservationist Photo of John Francis
Annie Griffiths
   Photographer Photo of Annie Griffiths
David Guttenfelder
   Photojournalist Photo of David Guttenfelder
Charlie Hamilton James
   Photographer, Filmmaker, TV Presenter Photo of Charlie Hamilton James
Kevin Hand
   Planetary Scientist and Astrobiologist Photo of Kevin Hand
Zahi Hawass
   Archaeologist Photo of Zahi Hawass
Fred Hiebert
   Archaeologist Photo of Fred Hiebert
Peter Hillary
   Mountaineer, Author Photo of Peter Hillary
Nizar Ibrahim
   Paleontologist Photo of Nizar Ibrahim
Donald Johanson
   Paleoanthropologist Photo of Donald Johanson
Beverly & Dereck Joubert
   Photographers, Filmmakers, Naturalists Photo of Beverly & Dereck Joubert
Mattias Klum
   Photographer, Filmmaker, Conservationist Photo of Mattias Klum
Robert Kunzig
   Senior Environment Editor, National Geographic Photo of Robert Kunzig
Tim Laman
   Field Biologist, Wildlife Photojournalist Photo of Tim Laman
Frans Lanting
   Photographer, Filmmaker, Writer Photo of Frans Lanting
Albert Yu-Min Lin
   Research Scientist and Engineer Photo of Albert Yu-Min Lin
Greg Marshall
   Biologist, Inventor, Filmmaker Photo of Greg Marshall
Boyd Matson
   Journalist, Adventurer Photo of Boyd Matson
Mireya Mayor
   Primatologist Photo of Mireya Mayor
Pete McBride
   Photographer, Filmmaker, Freshwater Advocate Photo of Pete McBride
Steve McCurry
   Photographer Photo of Steve McCurry
Kim McKay
   Environmentalist, Author Photo of Kim McKay
Mark Moffett
   Ecologist, Photographer Photo of Mark Moffett
Nalini Nadkarni
   Forest Ecologist Photo of Nalini Nadkarni
Michael "Nick" Nichols
   Photographer, Conservationist Photo of Michael "Nick" Nichols
Paul Nicklen
   Photographer, Biologist Photo of Paul Nicklen
Garrett Oliver
   Brewmaster, Author Photo of Garrett Oliver
Børge Ousland
   Polar Explorer Photo of Børge Ousland
Matthieu Paley
   Photographer Photo of Matthieu Paley
Carsten Peter
   Photographer, Filmmaker Photo of Carsten Peter
Bob Poole
   National Geographic Cameraman Photo of Bob Poole
Sandra Postel
   Freshwater Conservationist, Freshwater Fellow Photo of Sandra Postel
Chad Pregracke
   Environmentalist Photo of Chad Pregracke
   Photojournalist and Humanitarian Photo of  Reza
Cory Richards
   Photographer, Climber, 2012 Adventurer of the Year Photo of Cory Richards
Jim Richardson
   Photographer Photo of Jim Richardson
Enric Sala
   Marine Ecologist Photo of Enric Sala
Joel Sartore
   Photographer, National Geographic Fellow Photo of Joel Sartore
William Saturno
   Archaeologist Photo of William Saturno
Paul Sereno
   Paleontologist Photo of Paul Sereno
Brian Skerry
   Underwater Photographer Photo of Brian Skerry
Bryan Smith
   Adventure Filmmaker Photo of Bryan Smith
John Stanmeyer
   Photographer Photo of John Stanmeyer
Zoltan Takacs
   Herpetologist / Toxinologist Photo of Zoltan Takacs
Anand Varma
   Natural History Photographer Photo of Anand Varma
Ed Viesturs
   Mountaineer Photo of Ed Viesturs
Ami Vitale
   Photojournalist Photo of Ami Vitale
Spencer Wells
   Population Geneticist Photo of Spencer Wells
Steve Winter
   Photographer Photo of Steve Winter
Andrew Zolli
   Futurist Photo of Andrew Zolli

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