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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Oceans

Obama pledges support for massive new Pacific Ocean “hope spots,” echoing a TED Prize wish

June 18, 2014

On June 17, 2014, US president Obama pledged support to create 700,000 square miles of new Pacific Ocean "hope spots" -- no-fish, no-drill zones to help the ocean recover. As Sylvia Earle asked in her 2009 TED Prize wish: I wish that you would use all means at your disposal -- films, expeditions, the web, new submarines -- and campaign to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas -- hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet. How much? Some say 10 percent, some say 30 percent. You decide: how much of your heart do you want to protect?

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Oceans

31 days underwater: A TED Prize winner dives deep to visit Fabien Cousteau as he aims to beat his grandfather’s record

June 12, 2014

Sylvia Earle is always on a mission. She launched the ocean conservation campaign Mission Blue in 2010 after winning the TED Prize, establishing protected marine “hope spots” around the world. And last weekend, Earle dove 63 feet beneath the ocean’s surface to visit Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of legendary underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau, on his Mission 31. Earle, […]

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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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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 • 776K 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 • 776K views Feb 2009
Inspiring, Persuasive