American marine biologist, oceanographer, and explorer-in-residence for the National Geographic Society, Dr. Sylvia Earle was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In 1998, she was named Time Magazines’ Hero of the Planet.
Born in New Jersey, Dr. Earle’s parents encouraged her natural interest in all things outdoors. The family moved to Florida when she was 13 where she was able to explore her love for nature and marine life. She took up scuba diving as the need to discover all aspects of ocean life grew.
Dr. Earle attended St. Petersburg Jr. College and then earn a bachelor of science degree from Florida State University. She went on to get her Master’s of Science and Doctorate of Phycology, the study of algae, at Duke University in North Carolina. Dr. Earle supported herself while going to school working at the various college labs.
Over a distinguished career that spans four decades, Dr. Sylvia Earle has served as the Curator of Phycology at the California Academy of Sciences, worked as a research associate at the University of California, Berkeley, and a research fellow at Harvard University. She was the resident director of the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory in Florida. She also led the first all-female team of aquanauts living underwater at NASA’s Tektite II. Marine biologists fondly refer to her as Her Deepness or The Sturgeon General.
She is the founder of the Sylvia Earle Alliance/Mission Blue and Deep Ocean Exploration and Research Inc. An expert in the impact of toxic spills in the ocean, specifically oil, Dr. Earle led multiple research teams and consulted on major oil spills including the Exxon Valdez, Mega Borg, and Deepwater Horizon disaster. She personally led more than 100 expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater.
In her 40 years of fighting for ocean life, Dr. Sylvia Earle received multiple awards including the Walter Cronkite Award, the UN Champions of the Earth Award, and the Seattle Aquarium Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2014, Dr. Sylvia Earle was named Glamour Woman of the Year. She was honored as a Living Legend by the Library of Congress. She also received the Royal Geographic Society Patron’s Medal and the National Geographic 2013 Hubbard Medal.
As a leader in the fields of ecology and conservation of marine ecosystems along with the development of technology for deep sea access, she has authored more than 200 publications. Dr. Earle has been profiled by major publications such as Life Magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Times magazine, and Scientific American.
Dr. Sylvia Earle’s campaign to save the world’s oceans was featured in an award-winning Netflix documentary titled Mission Blue. The show was directed by Robert Nixon and Fisher Stevens and featured James Cameron and Michael deGruy.along with Earle.
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