Mission Blue - Sylvia Earle

The wish

Mission Blue

The winner

Sylvia Earle

The year


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.

The plan

In 1872, the United States began establishing a system of parks that some say was the nation’s very best idea. About 12 percent of the land around the world is now protected: safeguarding biodiversity, providing a carbon sink, and generating oxygen. It’s time to do the same thing for our oceans, the largest and most vital ecosystem on Earth — the blue heart of our planet. Our goal is to galvanize global support for marine protected areas, so that they will cover 20% of the world's oceans by 2020.

Current status

When Sylvia Earle won the TED Prize in 2009, less than 1 percent of the world’s oceans were protected. As of 2016, that number has increased to 4 percent. Still, there’s a long way to go. Decades of overfishing, pollution and climate change threaten the ocean—and the future of humankind itself.

In April 2010, Sylvia Earle hosted the Mission Blue voyage, a TED-at-sea in the Galapagos Islands. Policy influencers, scientists, artists and activists spoke at the event, and many of their talks have run on TED.com, from “Saving the ocean one island at a time” to “How we found the giant squid.” More than $17 million was committed to eight ocean conservation initiatives. And with support of the Planet Heritage Foundation, Razorfish, National Geographic, IUCN and Google Earth, Mission-Blue.org launched to continue to raise public awareness.

Since then, the Mission Blue team has led a series of expeditions to further shed light on Hope Spots. They’ve brought stories of ocean experts to the public, and supported the work of many other ocean conservation NGOs. In October 2015, Mission Blue II sailed a new group of attendees along the Pacific Equator, to keep the conversation going. More than eight of these talks from Mission Blue II have run on TED.com. Watch them »

Get involved

  1. Ignite support for Sylvia's wish by joining the Mission Blue online community: follow Mission Blue on Facebook and Mission Blue on Twitter.
  2. Support Mission Blue by making a donation or nominating a new Hope Spot. Act now.

About Sylvia

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.
Learn more about Sylvia

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