Dr. Sylvia Earle

Speaker sylvia earle
President and Chairman, Mission Blue / The Sylvia Earle Alliance
  • Norwegian Rachel Carson Prize winner (2017)
  • U.N. Champions of the Earth award (2014)
  • Winner of the 2009 TED Prize
  • Named TIME magazine’s inaugural Hero for the Planet (1998)

Due to her extensive work – and for clocking more than 7,000 hours underwater – Dr. Sylvia was given the nickname “Her Deepness” by The New Yorker.

The legendary oceanographer

In the past 50 years, humans have eaten more than 90% of the big fish in the sea, half of the coral reefs have disappeared and the amount of open ocean with zero oxygen has gone up more than fourfold. All this spurs oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle into action. Hers is a mission to inspire humankind to use all means at our disposal to support a global network of marine-protected areas, or “Hope Spots.” Truly a living legend, Dr. Earle has led more than 100 oceanic expeditions worldwide since donning one of the very first scuba tanks for her initial dive in 1953. She led the first all-women team of aquanauts on NASA’s Tektite II mission in 1970, where they lived in an underwater habitat together for more than a week, and set a depth record for walking the ocean floor untethered at 1,250 feet in 1979. Their success laid the groundwork for the inclusion of women on space missions.

Dr. Earle was also the first female chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, founded Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (a firm that designs, builds and deploys underwater rovers) and was the National Geographic Society’s 1998-2000 Explorer in Residence. She founded Mission Blue a decade ago, and her goal today is to achieve legal protection for 20% of the planet’s oceans by 2020. With scientists around the world, she calls for action, creates engagement, lobbies like crazy and encourages us all to strengthen research, explore the depths and work to safeguard and restore our waters.

“Our fate and the ocean are one.”
Dr. Sylvia Earle’s 2009 TED Prize wish
  • Norwegian Rachel Carson Prize winner (2017)
  • U.N. Champions of the Earth award (2014)
  • Winner of the 2009 TED Prize
  • Named TIME magazine’s inaugural Hero for the Planet (1998)

Due to her extensive work – and for clocking more than 7,000 hours underwater – Dr. Sylvia was given the nickname “Her Deepness” by The New Yorker.