Sylvia Earle's love of the sea and all its inhabitants fundamentally altered our understanding of the ocean. She has paved the way for future generations to learn about and safeguard our oceans and seas through her groundbreaking oceanographic research and tireless support for marine conservation. Dr. Earle's work exemplifies the huge difference that a single, hard-working person can make in the world.
Pioneering oceanographer, marine scientist, and adventurer Sylvia Earle has devoted her life to learning about and protecting the oceans. Earle, dubbed "Her Deepness" by the New Yorker and the New York Times, has been instrumental in promoting ocean health and expanding humanity's understanding of marine life.
Earle, a New Jersey native who was born in 1935, had an early fascination with the outdoors and a pioneering spirit. In 1966, she graduated with a doctorate from Duke University in phycology. In the same year, she became famous as an aquanaut and deep-sea explorer after spending two weeks in a submerged capsule 50 feet below the ocean's surface to investigate marine life.
Exploring the Oceans to New Depths: In 1979, Earle made history by becoming the first person to walk on the sea bottom without a tether, at a then-record depth of 1,250 feet. Later, in the Tektite II project, she oversaw the first all-female team of aquanauts, solidifying her position as a trailblazer for women in science and marine exploration.
Earle has been an outspoken advocate for marine conservation with her impressive exploration record. She has spent decades speaking up for marine protected areas (or "Hope Spots") after seeing firsthand the devastation of coral reefs and marine biodiversity due to pollution, climate change, and overfishing.
She started Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (DOER Marine) in 1990 to help the public and scientific communities get the tools they required to explore the ocean's depths through marine engineering and exploration.
Earle's legacy and impact go well beyond the realm of science. In 1998, she was recognized as the inaugural Hero for the Planet by Time magazine. Having been named an Explorer-in-Residence by National Geographic in 2009, she now uses her expertise and enthusiasm to inspire the next generation of explorers to safeguard the oceans.
Her lifetime quest to protect the world's oceans is the topic of the Netflix documentary "Mission Blue," which she has also authored and given a series of TED speeches about.