“What do you care about? Your health, security, the economy? Then you have to care what we are doing to the planet and the ocean.”
- Sylvia Earle
Sylvia Earle, Ph.D. has earned the sobriquets Joan of Arc of the Ocean, and Her Deepness. The Library of Congress calls her, simply, a Living Legend. Over the past 50 years, she has spent more than 7,000 hours undersea. She has discovered tens of thousands of species of aquatic life. She is the first person to walk on the bottom of the sea, and was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She was named by Time Magazine as its first Hero for the Planet in 1998.
While attending grad school in the 1950s, Dr. Earle was denied a teaching assistantship because, she was told, "you're just going to get married and have kids. We have to reserve these appointments for men who will make use of their education." Turns out the "bearded scientists" (her words) were 100% wrong: the oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer earned her master’s degree and Ph.D. from Duke University, and has dedicated her life to being one of the foremost crusaders for our oceans. She has had the ear of every U.S. president since Nixon. And, yes, she is a mother of three.
In 1964 she made a groundbreaking expedition by embarking on a six-week Indian Ocean voyage. That she was the only woman on the crew made world news, and one headline read, “Sylvia Sails Away With 70 Men, But She Expects No Problems."
Well into her 80s now, Dr. Earle continues to go on ocean expeditions. In 2009 she started a foundation, Mission Blue, that aims to protect critical parts of the ocean the same way national parks are protected. Earle calls these places hope spots. "You can still go 500 feet deep almost anywhere in the world and see things no one has ever seen before."
Her views on overfishing and pollution, once considered extreme, are now recognized as being very accurate. She has said, "The ocean generates most of the oxygen we breathe and 97 percent of Earth's water. It is the heart of our planet that keeps us alive."
By seeing the world from her eyes, we are ever more committed to creating a #LifeAfterPlastic. Thank you, Sylvia Earle, for all the contributions you make to our planet’s health and well-being.
Listen to an inspiring interview with Sylvia Earle here.