Sylvia Earle

By India Wright

About Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle was born in Gibbstown, New Jersey on August 30, 1935. She was the second of three children born to electrical engineer Lewis Earle and his wife, Alice Richie. Neither of her parents had a college education, but they encouraged her to be curious and to explore the world around her. She and her family lived on a farm near Camden, New Jersey before moving to Dunedin, Florida. In Florida, she learned how to scuba dive and attended Florida State and received her Bachelor's degree. She earned her Master's in 1956 from Duke University. In 1957, she married an American zoologist named John Taylor. Together, they started a family. She earned her PhD from Duke in 1966, and her dissertation on plant life in the Gulf of Mexico gave her In 1969, Neil Armstrong walked on the surface of the moon and Sylvia became even more determined to pursue her goal.
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She was the former chief scientist of NOAA, the founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research Inc., founder of Mission Blue and SEAlliance, and chair of the Advisory Councils of the Harte Research Institute and the Ocean in Google Earth. Her research as an oceanographer and the organizations she was involved in helped develop new technologies for access and effective operations in the deep sea and other remote environments. Sylvia Earle is also the recipient of over 100 awards, including the 2014 Glamour woman of the year award.


"I hope for your help to explore and protect the wild ocean in ways that will restore the health and, in so doing, secure hope for humankind. Health to the ocean means health for us."

"People ask: Why should I care about the ocean? Because the ocean is the cornerstone of earth's life support system, it shapes climate and weather. It holds most of life on earth. 97% of earth's water is there. It's the blue heart of the planet — we should take care of our heart. It's what makes life possible for us. We still have a really good chance to make things better than they are. They won't get better unless we take the action and inspire others to do the same thing. No one is without power. Everybody has the capacity to do something."

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Sylvia Earle's work has impacted all of us in our daily lives, whether we realize it or not. Her contribution to protecting Earth's oceans is an inspiration to all who strive to make the most of their lives. If she had never lived, scientists would be lacking vital information about the world's oceans and the world would be lacking a truly wonderful person. Even today, she continues to work on improving our knowledge and understanding of marine life.