Sylvia Earle

“Knowing is the key to caring, and with caring there is hope that people will be motivated to take positive action.”

Born in 1935 in New Jersey, Sylvia Earle is a marine biologist, lecturer, author, and explorer. She was the first woman to become chief scientist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She’s been a National Geographic explorer in residence since 1998.


Fun Facts

  • Sylvia’s parents loved nature and encouraged their daughter to explore and learn about it. Sylvia loved spending time in the fields and woods near her home.
  • Later the family moved to western Florida. Sylvia was sad to leave the New Jersey farms. She soon discovered a whole new world of nature to explore in the Florida coastline. The ocean became her passion.
  • She studied science at Florida State University, and later earned masters and doctorate degrees at Duke University.
  • Earle was a research fellow at Harvard University. In 1969, she led an all-female team of marine scientists on a project called Tektite 2. They spent several weeks submerged in the ocean studying marine life.
  • In 1982, she and her husband, Graham Hawkes, founded Deep Ocean Engineering, which made equipment for deep sea exploration. They developed the Deep Rover, a research submarine capable of going to depths of 3,300 feet.
  • In recent years, Earle has worked tirelessly to alert others of the dangers of oil spills and the need to protect our oceans. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Rachel Carson award.


Questions and Answers

Question: Is Sylvia Earle retired?

Answer: No. Now in her 80s, Sylvia still actively works on her Mission Blue project, which is devoted to protecting the ocean. Earlier in her career, she set the world record for deepest woman’s dive. She still dives regularly.

Learn More

Watch a video featuring Sylvia Earle.