Sylvia Earle, oceanographer, conservationist, and entrepreneur, has overcome the resistance of both the scientific and general communities to women traveling with men on long scientific expeditions, to become internationally recognized as one of our nation’s leading marine biologists and one of the world’s leading advocates for safeguarding the seas – the earth’s largest and most vital natural resource.
Dr. Earle’s adventures and her sense of wonder and excitement about the living underwater world has opened our eyes to the magnitude of our ignorance about the ocean and inspired us to protect it and respect its role in our lives. Earle has led over 100 expeditions worldwide, involving in excess of 7,000 hours underwater in connection with her research. In 1970, after being rejected from participating in Tektite I because she was a woman, she led the first team of women aquanauts, known as the Tektite II Project, on a two-week exploration of the ocean floor. In 1979, she walked un-tethered on the sea floor at a depth lower than any other person before or since (1,250 feet).
Determined to inform the world of her discoveries and the importance of ocean conservation, Earle has authored more than 190 publications on marine science and technology and participated in numerous television productions and lectures in more than eighty countries. Her 1995 book, Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans, has been described as a Rachel Carson-like plea for the preservation of the oceans.
Sometimes referred to as “Her Deepness,” Dr. Earle served for two years as the first female chief scientist of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. In 1992, she founded Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, now DOER Marine, an ocean engineering firm which designs, operates, supports, and consults on manned and robotic sub-sea systems. In addition to serving as Chairperson of her company, she led the Sustainable Seas Expeditions from1998-2002, served as adjunct scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and a member of various boards, foundations, and committees dealing with marine research, policy, and conservation. Her more than 100 national and international honors include honorary degrees as well as the prestigious United Nations Environment Award, the Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Award, and the Director’s Award of the National Resources Council.
Dr. Earle continues to plead for understanding and preservation of the oceans, reminding us that if we do not care for our water, we will simply cease to exist.