This story appears in the April 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine.
Most people don’t have the opportunity to swim in aquifers, but National Geographic Young Explorer Jennifer Adler regularly takes the plunge in hopes of promoting a new “water ethic,” an enlightened mind-set about the different sources and uses of water.
She chiefly studies—and swims in—the Floridan aquifer, a body that supplies more than 90 percent of Florida’s drinking water. After her dives she brings photos, videos, and a 360-degree virtual underwater tour to nearby schools with lessons about water conservation and efficiency. Kids can be particularly curious about where water comes from, and urging kids to use less water is often an easier sell than persuading adults to go easy on their lawns.
What do children see in her images of underwater caves with almost no light or marine life? “Often not much more than a bunch of rock,” she says. “A lot of kids ask me if I ever find gems.” Her finds tend more to sand dollar fossils. The real treasure, as she hopes the kids understand, is the H2O itself.
360° Video: Explore Florida caves in this online experience here.