Dr. Sylvia Earle in the early years
Today we are going to profile a great Ocean Leader that spends her life raising awareness for the Oceans. I am talking about Dr. Sylvia Earle.
Sylvia Earle was born in New Jersey where she lived on a farm and explored the woods that backed on to her house. At a very young age, Sylvia was taught to observe and respect nature. Later, her family moved to Clearwater, Florida where she was first introduced to the nature of the Gulf of Mexico.
Education of a Lifetime
Sylvia earned scholarships and worked her way through school at Florida State. It was here where she first learned to SCUBA dive, which would later pave the way to her Oceanographic fame. Sylvia earned a Master’s Degree from Duke University in the 1960s. Soon after that, Sylvia went on a National Science Foundation expedition in the Indian Ocean.
She earned her PhD in 1966, where she was the first marine scientist to study the plant life in the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, Sylvia has been dedicated to cataloguing every species of plant life that can be found in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Beginning of a Lifetime CareerHer career took her to many places such as a research fellow at Harvard, a resident directorship of the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory in Florida. But her career was shaped by her underwater exploration of the sea. Sylvia lead the first all women team of researchers in the Tektite II, Mission 6 expedition where the research team lived 50 feet below the surface for two weeks in a small structure.
The publicity surrounding the expedition made Sylvia a recognizable face across the US and she was in high demand to speak at public events. She became an outspoken advocate of undersea research and used that interest to educate the public and raise awareness of the damage being done to the oceans by pollution and environmental degradation.
In the 1970s, Sylvia took part in scientific missions in the Galapagos, Panama, China, Bahamas, and back to the Indian Ocean.
Walk the Deep SeaSince then, Sylvia has participated in documentaries, wrote numerous books, and explored the Ocean with a special interest in the deep sea. In 1979, she was, and is, the only person to walk on the seafloor, untethered, at 1250 feet below the Ocean’s surface off the island of Oahu.
Sylvia started two companies, along with engineer Graham Hawkes, called Deep Ocean Engineering and Deep Ocean Technologies. These business ventures design and build undersea vehicles that allow scientists to maneuver at depths previously defied by any other existing technology.
In the early 1990s, Sylvia took a leave of absence from her companies to serve as Chief Scientist of NOAA where she was responsible for monitoring the health of the nation’s waters.
Today Sylvia Earle is Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society, and more recently, she led the Google Ocean Advisory Council to provide content and oversee the Ocean Layer in Google Earth. To date, she has led over 70 expeditions, logging more than 6500 hours underwater. In 2009, Sylvia received the TED Prize for her proposal to establish a global network of marine protected areas she calls hope spots, to save and restore what she calls the blue heart of the planet.You probably see Sylvia in person as she tours the world to speak about protecting the Ocean and she probably inspires you by her passion for the Ocean through her talks, but I encourage you to try and meet her in person as she will inspire you even more with her energy she gets when she speaks to someone one on one about the Ocean.
I had the pleasure to meet Sylvia in 2010 at National Geographic Headquarters during Ocean’s Week in Washington, DC. The meeting inspired me to create SpeakUpForBlue.com and dedicate my life to help get people to do more to protect our Oceans.
That is our show for today…before we go
I want to leave you with the question of the day:
How has Dr. Sylvia Earle inspired you to work to protect the Oceans?
Remember to share the this video with your family, friends, and network to raise awareness of what is happening in the Ocean around the World.