Sylvia Earle

Time magazine’s first “Hero for the Planet,” Sylvia Earle is a global advocate for the world’s oceans.


Dubbed “her deepness” by the New Yorker and a “living legend” by the Library of Congress, Earle has led more than 50 expeditions worldwide involving more than 6,000 hours underwater.

Formerly chief scientist of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earle started the companies Deep Ocean Engineering and Deep Ocean Technologies in the 1980’s to design and build over 600 groundbreaking undersea vehicles that have allowed scientists to work at previously inaccessible depths. Her non-profit, Mission Blue (for which she won the TED Prize in 2009), is dedicated to creating national parks in the deep seas, a complicated task considering the lack of country jurisdiction in these areas. Earle has walked untethered on the sea floor at a lower depth than any other woman, and she was the captain of the first all-female team to live underwater. At present she is an explorer in residence at the National Geographic Society.

Earle is an oceanographer, explorer, author, research scientist, government official, and director for corporate and nonprofit organizations, including the Kerr McGee Corporation, Dresser Industries, Oryx Energy, the Aspen Institute, the Conservation Fund, and 10 others. She is also the founder of SEAlliance, and chair of the Advisory Councils of the Harte Research Institute and the Ocean in Google Earth.

Among over 100 major national and international honors, Earle was Glamour’s 2014 Women of the Year, recipient of the 2009 TED Prize, the 2011 Royal Geographical Society Gold Medal, 2011 Medal of Honor from the Dominican Republic, Netherlands Order of the Golden Ark, Italy’s Artiglio Award, the International Seakeepers Award and Los Angeles Times Woman of the Year. She is a United Nations Global 500Laureate.

Sylvia Earle at TED 2009.