Sylvia Earle has been at the frontier of deep ocean exploration for four decades. She's led more than 50 undersea expeditions, and she's been an equally tireless advocate for our oceans and the creatures who live in them.

Why you should listen

Sylvia Earle, called "Her Deepness" by the New Yorker and the New York Times, "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress and "Hero for the Planet" by Time, is an oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer with a deep commitment to research through personal exploration.

Earle's work has been at the frontier of deep ocean exploration for four decades. Earle has led more than 50 expeditions worldwide involving more than 6,000 hours underwater. As captain of the first all-female team to live underwater, she and her fellow scientists received a ticker-tape parade and White House reception upon their return to the surface. In 1979, Sylvia Earle walked untethered on the sea floor at a lower depth than any other woman before or since. In the 1980s she started the companies Deep Ocean Engineering and Deep Ocean Technologies with engineer Graham Hawkes to design and build undersea vehicles that allow scientists to work at previously inaccessible depths. In the early 1990s, Dr. Earle served as Chief Scientist of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. At present she is explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society.

Sylvia Earle is a dedicated advocate for the world's oceans and the creatures that live in them. Her voice speaks with wonder and amazement at the glory of the oceans and with urgency to awaken the public from its ignorance about the role the oceans plays in all of our lives and the importance of maintaining their health.

What others say

"We've got to somehow stabilize our connection to nature so that in 50 years from now, 500 years, 5,000 years from now there will still be a wild system and respect for what it takes to sustain us." — Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle’s TED talks

Sylvia Earle on the TED Blog
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Live from TED2014

Progress for “the blue heart of the planet” and a plan to de-extinct a kayak: A recap of “Planet Dearth,” All-Stars Session 1 at TED2014

March 18, 2014

By Liz Jacobs and Kate Torgovnick Are we on the brink of a resource crisis? All signs point to yes. As the human population grows, the planet is buckling under the pressure of our needs. In this inaugural All-Stars session, 11 classic TED speakers return to the stage to share their deep concern for preserving […]

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Global Issues

Dive into ocean news on

April 4, 2012

TED Prize winner Sylvia Earle inspired all of us to care deeply about the ocean and to think deeply about how we can protect it. But the ocean is vast and the challenges are numerous. Where do we begin to understand the complex beauty that is the ocean? One great place to start: The new […]

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7 miles down: James Cameron’s sub set to explore the Mariana Trench

March 24, 2012

Update: This Storify tells the story of the descent in tweets from around the world … If all goes as planned, today James Cameron (watch his TEDTalk) begins an epic dive to the deepest point in the ocean — taking the director almost 7 miles down into the Mariana Trench. Follow the Deepsea Challenge expedition […]

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Quotes from Sylvia Earle

I’m haunted by the thought of what Ray Anderson calls ‘tomorrow’s child,’ asking why we didn’t do something on our watch to save sharks and bluefin tuna and squids and coral reefs and the living ocean while there still was time. Well, now is that time.
Sylvia Earle
TED2009 • 745K views Feb 2009
Inspiring, Persuasive
I hope that someday we will find evidence that there is intelligent life among humans on this planet.
Sylvia Earle
TED2009 • 745K views Feb 2009
Inspiring, Persuasive