Sylvia Earle

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Marine biologist Sylvia Earle—sometimes known as “Her Deepness” or “The Sturgeon General”—has been an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society since 1998. Named Time magazine’s first “hero for the planet” in 1998, Earle has pioneered research on marine ecosystems and has led more than 50 expeditions totaling more than 6,000 hours underwater. She holds numerous diving records.

“I was swept off my feet by a wave when I was three and have been in love with the sea ever since,” Earle said. “Even as a child I was lured into the sea by the creatures who live there: horseshoe crabs on the New Jersey beaches; starfish and sea urchins in the Florida Keys; and everywhere strange and wonderful forms of life that occur only underwater. It was and is irresistible.”

Former chief scientist for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Earle is author of more than 125 scientific and popular publications, including the 1995 book Sea Change. Her research places special emphasis on marine plants and the development of technology for access and research in the deep sea. She played a key role in a decision in early 1999 by the Clinton administration to double the budget of the U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries.

Earle is working with the Society on projects involving her passion—most notably serving as project director of the Sustainable Seas Expeditions. Sustainable Seas is a five-year project of the National Geographic Society and NOAA, the federal agency that administers the 12 U.S. marine sanctuaries, the underwater equivalents of national parks. The objective of the initiative is to explore and photodocument the geology and creatures in the deep waters of each of the sanctuaries. Earle also has written three books for the Society, two for children and Wild Ocean: America’s Parks Under the Sea.

Earle was born August 30, 1935, in Gibbstown, New Jersey. She has a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and a master’s and doctorate from Duke University, as well as 12 honorary doctorate degrees. She lives in Oakland, California.

Earle continues to work with the Society on projects involving her passion—most notably serving as project director of the Sustainable Seas Expeditions. Sustainable Seas was a five-year project of the National Geographic Society and NOAA, the federal agency that administers the 12 U.S. marine sanctuaries, the underwater equivalents of national parks. The objective of the initiative was to explore and photodocument the geology and creatures in the deep waters of each of the sanctuaries. Earle also has written three books for the Society, two for children, and Wild Ocean: America's Parks Under the Sea.

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