Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle: Oceanographer & Deep Sea Diver

Sustainable Seas: The Vision, the Reality



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May 12, 2011

Sylvia A. Earle is an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, founder of the Mission Blue Foundation, chair of the Advisory Council for the Harte Research Institute and the Marine Science and Technology Foundation, and former chief scientist of NOAA. She was named Time magazine's first Hero for the Planet, a Living Legend by the Library of Congress, and a 2009 winner of the TED Prize. Earle has pioneered research on marine ecosystems and has led more than 100 expeditions totaling more than 7,000 hours underwater.

“I was swept off my feet by a wave when I was three and have been in love with the sea ever since,” Earle said.” Even as a child I was lured into the sea by the creatures who live there: horseshoe crabs on the New Jersey beaches; starfish and sea urchins in the Florida Keys; and everywhere strange and wonderful forms of life that occur only underwater. It was and is irresistible.”

Earle is author of more than 175 scientific and popular publications, including The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean's Are One (2009) and Ocean: An Illustrated Atlas (2008). Her research places special emphasis on marine plants and ecosystems, and the development of technology for access and research on the deep sea.

She played a key role in bringing about increased support for U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries during the Clinton administration in 1999, and later helped inspire George W. Bush to designate vast tracts of American-controlled Pacific Ocean islands, reefs, surface waters and sea floor as marine national monuments, limiting fishing, mining and oil exploration. Today, she is leading a global effort to develop networks of protected areas in the sea—“Hope Spots”—large enough to protect the blue heart of the planet.

Earle has a bachelor's degree from Florida State University and a master's degree and doctorate from Duke University as well as numerous honorary doctorate degrees. She lives in Oakland, California.

Read the Momentum magazine article


Learn more about Sylvia Earle

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