Sylvia Earle PhD
These are the words of Dr Sylvia Earle when asked how she stays hopeful in spite of the global marine conservation issues with which we are currently faced. She is driven, tireless, and perpetually hopeful, and has inspired countless people all over the world with her words and actions.
Sylvia Earle is an acclaimed American underwater explorer, marine biologist, aquanaut, lecturer, author and a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence. For four decades, she has been a pioneer of deep ocean exploration and has remained at the forefront of research as a marine explorer. As the founder of the marine technology company Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (DOER), she is also highly committed to developing equipment that allows her and other scientists to vastly extend the reaches of the ocean their laboratory. In 2009, Earle won a TED Prize, awarded to an individual with bold vision to spark global change. With TED’s support, she founded Mission Blue, which helps to establish protected areas named Hope Spots around the globe and to preserve the most critical parts of the ocean.
In 2019, under the banner of a Perpetual Planet, Rolex is joining forces with key individuals and organizations to help find SOLUTIONS TO ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES.
With Dr Earle as the chair of our Editorial Board here at Ocean Geographic Magazine, it is our constant privilege to be guided by her wisdom and insight. We have also been extremely fortunate to have Dr Earle as the Chief Scientist on all three of our Elysium Expeditions to the Antarctic, Arctic, and Coral Triangle over the past decade. We are now working with Dr Earle to support Deep Hope, a California-based, non-profit initiative with the vision of building submersibles that will open up access to our deep seas.
The Deep Hope subs will be the tools to connect our uninformed present with an enlightened future that properly values its oceans. As Sylvia always says, “Onwards and downwards!”
Many organizations work to forward the ideals espoused by Sylvia Earle, but her oldest and most unwavering supporter is Rolex. In 1979, Earle set the world untethered diving record, descending 381 metres (1,250 feet) beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean in a pressure-resistant JIM diving suit. Soon after that, she became a Rolex Testimonee, and has been their premiere ocean ambassador ever since.
As the 21st century unfolds, exploration for pure discovery has given way to exploration as a means to preserve the natural world. Today’s explorers are increasingly concerned about the balance of the Earth’s ecosystems. Accordingly, the purpose of their expeditions and projects has transitioned from discovery to drawing attention to the planet’s fragility, as well as to catalyse and design solutions to the Earth’s environmental challenges. Rolex continues the legacy of its founder, Hans Wilsdorf, by supporting the explorers of today on a new mission to chart changes in the Earth’s ecosystems.
In 2019, under the banner of a Perpetual Planet, Rolex is joining forces with key individuals and organizations to help find solutions to environmental challenges. To begin with, the campaign has three pillars – leading ocean explorer Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue initiative to protect the oceans through a network of marine protected Hope Spots; the Rolex Awards for Enterprise that recognize individuals with projects that advance knowledge and protect human well-being and the environment; and its long-standing National Geographic partnership.
Since 2010, through her Mission Blue initiative, Earle has inspired communities and governments to shield marine life that is at risk from human pressures through Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) she calls Hope Spots. These are areas of the oceans designated as being vital to the preservation of species, from the range of diversity a particular site displays or its significance as a home to endemic, rare or endangered species, or places where local communities rely on a healthy marine environment for their survival. With the support of Rolex, the number of Hope Spots has increased from 50 to 112 over the past five years. Earle aims to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. Currently, only 8% of the oceans have some form protectionbut only 3% percent are accorded full protection.
For nearly a century, Rolex has been an active supporter of pioneering explorers, individuals who have pushed back the boundaries of human endeavour by venturing to the most extreme places on Earth to shed light on the natural world.
Since 2010, through her Mission Blue initiative, Sylvia Earle has inspired communities and governments to shield marine life that is at risk from human pressures through MARINE PROTECTED AREAS (MPAS) SHE CALLS HOPE SPOTS.
With the Perpetual Planet campaign launched in 2019, Rolex is committed for the long term to support these explorers in their quests to protect the environment.
Whilst discussing with Sylvia on what it takes to be a marine scientist, she told Rolex, “Our sense of curiosity is what makes us human. It leads to discoveries that we pass along from one generation to the next, wanting our children to have even better opportunities than we have had. Nowadays we are empowered with more insight, knowledge and understanding. Yet, we’re just beginning to explore the ocean floor. The history of life on Earth is mostly an ocean history. The ocean is really where the action is.”
As always, Sylvia’s timeless words ring true. Our world ocean is the blue heart and lungs of our planet, and we need to start behaving as if our lives depended on it. Because they do.
- First published in Ocean Geographic 2019:
- Ocean Geographic website