SPC Alumna Sylvia Earle: First Hero for the Planet


SPC Alumna Sylvia Earle

SPC alumna Sylvia Earle is an award-winning and world renowned oceanographer, explorer, aquanaut, author and lecturer with a deep commitment to research and conservation through personal exploration. A National Geographic explorer-in-residence, Sylvia is well known for her work to safeguard the oceans with Mission Blue, an alliance dedicated to ocean conservation and education.

For her more than 50 years of ground-breaking ocean science studies, conservation efforts, underwater expeditions and many firsts, Time magazine named her the first "Hero for the Planet" in 1998.

Sylvia earned her A.A. degree from what was then St. Petersburg Junior College in 1953 and transferred to Florida State University where she earned a bachelor of science degree. She later went on to earn her masters and doctoral degrees from Duke University.

sylvia earleAmong her many accomplishments, Sylvia is the author of more than 200 publications, has led more than 100 expeditions and has spent more than 7,000 hours underwater. Sylvia organized the first all-female crew that lived underwater for weeks in 1970 and in 1979 walked untethered on the sea floor at a lower depth than any other woman before or since. She became the first woman to serve as Chief Scientist of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in the 1990s and has received hundreds of national and international awards and honors.

“I wish you would use all means at your disposal – films, expeditions, the web, new submarines – to create a campaign to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas; Hope Spots large enough to save and restore the blue heart of the planet,” said Sylvia in her 2009 TED Prize presentation.