“WITH EVERY DROP OF WATER YOU DRINK, EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE, YOU'RE CONNECTED TO THE SEA. NO MATTER WHERE ON EARTH YOU LIVE. MOST OF THE OXYGEN IN THE ATMOSPHERE IS GENERATED BY THE SEA.”
Some kids grow up wanting to be an astronaut, I grew up hoping to be an aquanaut. Getting to explore the depths of the oceans, becoming friends with whales and turtles, going to work in a wetsuit...that was the ultimate dream.
Today marks the birth of the world's most famous aquanaut (and my personal idol), Dr. Sylvia Earle. She has undoubtedly made the world a better place and inspires me, personally, to do better. I've picked a few of my favorite things about Dr. Earle to celebrate...
1. She's a freaking aquanaut!
Dr. Earle led the first team of women aquanauts during the historic Tektite II deep sea research project in 1970. Tektite II, which was funded by NASA, was created specifically for women aquanauts, as they were not allowed to participate in the government’s first expedition, Tektite, which was open to men only. It was the success of this expedition that prompted NASA to open its astronaut training program to women.
2. She was the first person to walk solo on the bottom of the ocean
She’s known affectionately by her fellow scientists as “Her Deepness.” Dr. Earle earned this nickname in 1979 - that year, she became the first person to walk solo on the bottom of the world, on the ocean floor, under a quarter-mile of water — 600 pounds of pressure per square inch.
She has led more than 100 research expeditions worldwide, logging over 7,000 hours underwater, requiring her to live underwater for weeks at a time.
3. She is the biggest advocate for marine life
Dr. Earle has an incredible background in conservation and advocacy. She was called a "Hero for the Planet" by Time magazine. From 1980 to 1984, she served on the President's Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere. In 1990 she was appointed as Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where she served until 1992. In 1992, she founded Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (DOER), to design, operate, support, and consult on occupied and robotic subsea systems. Dr. Earle is presently Chair of DOER and an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society. She is an adjunct scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), a Director of Kerr-McGee Inc., and serves on the boards, foundations and committees of the World Resources Institute, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, World Environment Center, University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, Duke University Marine Laboratory, Lindbergh Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Center for Marine Conservation, among others.
4. She founded Mission Blue
In recent years, Sylvia Earle has worked to create a network of marine protected areas throughout the world. Today, Dr. Earle runs her non-profit, Mission Blue, and uses her expertise to ignite public support for marine conservation.