Sylvia Earle





Jeffrey Gress

“Final shot of my portrait of “Her Deepness” Dr. Sylvia Earle for @pangeaseed Oceanographer, National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence, Conservationist, Badass. I heard she will be in Cozumel in December, I hope someone takes her to go see this wall! ‪#‎missionblue‬ ‪#‎SylviaEarle‬ Also, an unplanned collaboration with the power line, our lines match up perfectly!“With every drop of water you drink, with every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live.” - Dr. Sylvia Earle Reposted from @undergroundpeople “

“Surprise guest @pro_gress adding his special touch next to my finished portrait of Dr Sylvia Earle aka Her Deepness! Repost from @pangeaseed”


Beautiful and sad GIFs that show what’s happening to the ocean (TED,COM)

Scientist Sylvia Earle (TED Talk: My wish: Protect our oceans) has spent the past five decades exploring the seas. During that time, she’s witnessed a steep decline in ocean wildlife numbers — and a sharp incline in the number of ocean deadzones and oil drilling sites. An original documentary about Earle’s life and work premieres today on Netflix. Watch it here.

What happened to the coral reefs?

Between 1950 and 2014, half of the coral reefs across the oceans died.

What happened to tuna, sharks, and cod?

Between 1950 and 2014, Pacific Bluefin Tuna, sharks, and North Atlantic Cod were all almost fished to extinction. Between 5% and 10% remain.

The number of ocean deadzones then and now.

Ocean deadzones are spots in the sea where life no longer exists. They occur when massive fertilizer runoff (or other ocean crises) set in motion an oxygen-depriving chain of events leading to the death in one spot of fish, crabs and other sea creatures. In 1975, there was one documented deadzone. In 2014, there were 500+.

The number of oil drilling sites then and now.

Oil drilling in the Gulf Coast didn’t start and stop with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. But the practice is younger than you might think. In 1947, there was just one oil drilling site. In 2014, there were more than 30,000.

Badass Scientist of the Week: Dr. Sylvia Earle

Dr. Sylvia Earle (1935—) is an aquanaut, oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer—she’s led more than 70 expeditions and logged more than 6,500 hours (270 days) underwater. She learned scuba diving while completing her B.S. at Florida State, and she became determined to use the new technology to study underwater life. After earning her Masters at Duke University and starting a family, she went on a six-week expedition in the Indian Ocean in 1964, became director of Cape Haze Marine Laboratory, and somewhere in there obtained her P.h.D too. In 1968 she travelled to 100 feet below the surface of the Bahamas in the submersible deep diver (while four months pregnant with her third child, no big deal) and in 1969, she applied to the Tektite project, which allowed scientists to live underwater for weeks in an enclosed habitat off the Virgin Islands. However, those in charge didn’t want a woman living amongst the men—so instead, Earle just casually led the first all-female research expedition. By the time she surfaced two weeks later, she was a celebrity. She became an advocate for conservation and undersea research, and began to write for National Geographic and produce books, films and television shows. Throughout the 1970s, she undertook scientific missions all over the world, including following sperm whales in 1977, and in 1979, she donned a pressurized suit called the “Jim suit” and walked untethered on the ocean floor at a depth of 385 metres—deeper than anyone before or since. In the 1980s, she started the companies Deep Ocean Engineering and Deep Ocean Technologies, which built undersea vehicles that enabled scientific research at depths that hadn’t before been possible. Today, Earle is Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society. She has received 15 honourary degrees, authored 150 different publications, and appeared in hundreds of TV shows. She continues to be a dedicated voice for the world’s oceans and its inhabitants—and basically just continues to be really, really badass.

A Must Watch: Sylvia Earle’s TED talk about protecting our oceans

78-year-old Sylvia Earle has spent about 7,000 hours (292 days) underwater and is continuing to make dives. Even more inspirational, Sylvia has made it her mission to push others to care more about the world’s oceans. 

“The ocean dominates the way the world works, makes our lives possible. Take away the ocean, you’ve got a planet a lot like Mars,” Sylvia says. “This is the sweet spot in time. Because never before could we know what we know, and never again will we have a chance, as good as we have now, to really make a difference." 

The woman who has spent almost a year of her life underwater (The Atlantic) 

Living at Aquarius Reef Base is “like camping underwater,” according to Earle. The aquanauts eat, sleep, and shower at the base. The rest of the time, they get to explore what Earle describes as the best swimming pool in the world. The researchers can even communicate with landlubbers during their expeditions–while underwater, they wear special helmets outfitted with clear face plates and face masks (for speaking) that link back via a cable to the base, and then via another cable up to a surface buoy that wirelessly transmits the signal to the world.

When we spoke to Earle, the aquanauts hadn’t been at the base for long. But one of them had already seen something incredible: At 2 a.m., a giant goliath grouper–about the size of two to three people–cruising around the base, snapping up smaller fish attracted to the light. The grouper, which has been hanging around the base “looks like a big pillow with eyes,” says Earle. “She comes out like a lioness on the prowl.”

What It’s Like To Live In America’s Space Station Under The Sea
Petition to Protect the High Seas

“Imagine a world with no laws. Without restrictions, profit-seeking businesses would plunder natural resources and pollute with impunity. It would be a world where the public good was sacrificed to private profit.”

Heeyyyy tumblr world-savers, did you know that HALF OF THE PLANET ALREADY LIVES IN THIS STATE?? And that’s not including the parts of Earth inhabited by people… Yeah, that’s right, our oceans are in grave dangerInternational waters have minimal regulations which leaves many loopholes in fisheries management law – this means the High Seas have been minimally protected so that fishing companies can exploit the world’s fisheries, and the worst part? THERE’S HARDLY ANY FISH LEFT IN THE SEAS. Research has shown us that our big-fish populations (like tuna, swordfish, marlin, cod and halibut) have fallen 90%… since 1950. (x) And this devastatingly massive loss of biodiversity is because of us.

Today’s insatiable demands for fish and unsustainable fishing practices threaten the life of our oceans; that’s why it’s imperative that you sign this petition to the United Nations General Assembly to “implement sustainable governance of the High Seas” and protect the ocean’s vital resources.

Like Dr. Sylvia Earle, the sensational marine-conservation-warrier/aquanaut-scientist/governmental-corruption-kicker/take-no-shit-from-big-business-orator and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, says: “No ocean, no us.” (x) All life is possible because of marine life and ocean systems. And the ocean is not too big to fail; it needs protection. We’re overfishing, and our coral reefs are dying, but we gotta have hope. There’s still time to turn things around, but international action needs to be taken now. Add your name to this list of those who recognize the importance of responsibly managing the High Seas, and pleeaasseee signal boost!

“Ten percent of the big fish still remain. There are still some blue whales. There are still some krill in Antarctica. There are a few oysters in Chesapeake Bay. Half the coral reefs are still in pretty good shape, a jeweled belt around the middle of the planet. There’s still time, but not a lot, to turn things around.” - Sylvia Earle

Mission Blue ~ "No ocean, no life. No life, no us."

I: “Aren’t you a radical about protecting the oceans?”

SE: “If I seem like a radical, it may be because I see things that others do not.”

The documentary “Mission Blue” was released on Netflix on August 15th. It features the extraordinary Dr. Sylvia Earle, her life and work to protect the oceans and to spread awareness on marine conservation. I watched it a few nights ago, and felt inspired, impressed, and at the same time a bit disgusted by the human race. And also quite glad to be a vegetarian. 

The film highlights Earle’s main contributions and scientific missions while taking us down memory lane to learn more about her childhood growing up in New Jersey, and then falling in love with the oceans when she moved to the Gulf coast of Florida. She talks with a lot of emotion about how the nature she would love so much as a child has changed so much, for the worse. While Sylvia grew up by the Gulf of Mexico, there was only one oil rig in the Gulf. Nowadays, there are over 33,000 of them!

Growing up and through her high school and college career, her inspirations were William Beebe and Jacques Cousteau. Luckily for her, one of her college professors managed to get some of the very first set of ‘Aqualung’ equipment available. Once she started diving, she never looked back. She felt free, at ease, at home.

Well, I clearly failed my graduation photo! She admits that back in the day, nobody even conceived we could have an impact on the oceans. “The sea at the time seemed endless in its capacity to yield whatever we wanted to take from it, and in whatever we could put in it,” she explains. “We have this idea as humans that the oceans is so big and so vast and so resilient that it doesn’t matter what we do to it. Our ignorance is really the biggest problem we now face.”

But she saw her home, Florida, change before her eyes as it was being developed at an alarming pace. She gets emotional talking about Tampa Bay, about the crystal waters of her childhood turning green, about the grass dying, about the salt marshes being destroyed to build parking lots.

“That kind of experience, of witness… I saw the before, and I saw the after of what kind of influence we can do to the natural world.”

To my (nerdy) delight, the documentary also prominently features Jeremy Jackson (if you are or want to get into marine biology, you will read many, many, many of his papers). Jackson explains that the Gulf of Mexico is this extraordinarily wonderful, productive, magnificent place that also had the misfortune of being on top of a ton of oil and of being the sewer for a lot of people of the U.S.A.

The film touches on many critical topics and on the many barbaric acts we can do to the oceans. Some footage is very raw and not for the weak-hearted: shark finning, the BP oil spill, industrial fishing, trash and plastic pollution, death of coral reefs worldwide, overfishing of many species, agricultural and animal farming run-off…It’s quite a slap in the face and a lot to take in. If this isn’t a wake-up call, I don’t know what is. 

Earle was a pioneer for all women in the science world. She broke through all the barricades and prejudices against women. All of the sudden, in the middle of all of these burly, bearded men was a tiny, ambitious woman with a lot of big ideas.

In 1979, she made an open-ocean JIM suit dive to the sea floor near Oahu, Hawaii, setting a women’s depth record of 381 metres (1,250 ft). She admits she never was scared. She was fascinated to be able to observe all these bioluminescent creatures and a landscape that hadn’t changed in billions of years. She even asked to turn the lights off!

She has made it her life’s purpose to speak for the oceans.In a way, we are all sea creatures,” she explains on the Colbert Report. She is not scared to get in the heat of things, as we see her get in the water, camera in-hands, really close to huge industrial fishing boats.

“Seeing this… being in the water with the fish… for a moment i felt as if a piece of me was ripped out of the ocean as well,” she recalls, emotionally.

As we all already knew, she is not afraid to point fingers and say what is on her mind. As she became more renowned, she was appointed Chief Scientist of NOAA in 1990. While she admits she learned a lot, she also realized that it was not the best position for her to really make an impact.

“I went to a meeting with the Fisheries Council, and I was never allowed again,” she explains. “I was not permitted to speak about things I knew most about”. And that says a lot. Being a government official did not allow her to fully convey her passion and to freely speak her mind. So she parted ways with NOAA. 

Now, Earle is always on the road, traveling all around the world to give lectures and to inspire people to care about the oceans. Her Mission Blue is to protect the oceans the same way we now protect the land. 

The documentary ends on a positive and hopeful note, and the message to take home is that we can change the way things are going. We have to rewire how human beings look at their relationship with nature: “what we have on Earth is all we will ever have.

This film serves as a career retrospect, which is fascinating, an intriguing personal story on her family life, but also as a warning call to protect our planet. It is hard-hitting, but also inspiring. Now it is up to every single one of us to make a change for the better. Will you join Mission Blue?


A Scientist Laughs In The Face Of Sexism, Totally Rocks Biology Career

Sylvia Earle is a majorly admirable person. Er, biologist. Er, activist. Er, aquanaut. So, she’s a lot of things. All of them are pretty great. Add to that the fact that she’s entertaining, whimsical, and personable, and you’ve got several minutes of video any little girl who is contemplating a life as a scientist should definitely watch.

At 4:40, she explains how she did incredible work — despite the rampant sexist commentary about her and her female colleagues.


Mrs Sylvia Earle (78) (TED Talk: My wish: Protect our oceans 2009) living legend is an oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer with a deep commitment to research through personal exploration.  Has spent the past five decades exploring the seas. During that time she has seen a sharp decline in the number of ocean life and biodiversity - and a sharp increase in the number of oceanic dead zones and oil drilling sites.  

Netflix has an original doc Mission Blue on the life and work of Earle. you should see it.

Between 1950 and 2014, has died the half of coral reefs of the oceans (by multiple reasons)

Between 1950 and 2014, Pacific bluefin tuna, sharks and North Atlantic cod  were caught to near extinction.  Between 5% and 10% remain

Dead zones are hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas in the world's oceans and large lakes, caused by “excessive nutrient pollution” from human activities coupled with other factors that deplete the oxygen required to support most marine life in bottom and near-bottom water. In 1975, there was ONE documented dead zone. In 2014, there are over 500.

Oil drilling in the Gulf Coast does not start and end with the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster of 2010 But the practice started more early than you think. In 1947, there was only one oil drilling site. In 2014, there are more than 30,000.