Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle is President and Chairman of Mission Blue / The Sylvia Earle Alliance. She is an oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer with experience as a field research scientist, government official, and director for several corporate and non-profit organizations.

A pioneer in the use of modern self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) gear and the development of deep-sea submersibles, she discovered undersea dunes off the coast of the Bahamas in 1968. In 1970, she led the first all-female team of women aquanauts as part of a project designed to explore the marine realm and test the viability of deep water habitats and the health effects of prolonged living in underwater structures.

In 1979, she set the world untethered diving record, descending 1,250 feet beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean in a JIM diving suit, a special diving apparatus that maintains an interior pressure of one standard atmosphere (14.70 pounds per square inch).

During the early 1980s she founded Deep Ocean Engineering and Deep Ocean Technology with British engineer Graham Hawkes. Together they designed the submersible Deep Rover, a vehicle capable of reaching depths of 3,000 feet beneath the surface of the ocean.

Sylvia served on the National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere from 1980 to 1984. She was the chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 1990 to 1992. And in 1998, she became the National Geographic Society’s first female explorer in residence.

She is a National Geographic Society’s Explorer in Residence, and is called “Her Deepness” by the New Yorker and the New York Times, “a living legend” by the Library of Congress, and first “Hero for the Planet” by Time magazine.

Dr. Earle has published over 100 scientific papers, and her other works include Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans (1994), Wild Ocean: America’s Parks Under the Sea (1999) with American author Wolcott Henry, and The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One (2009).

(Photo of Sylvia Earle by Kip Evans.)