Netflix’s ‘Seaspiracy’ is a documentary that began as a simple project for filmmaker Ali Tabrizi to explore his passion for the ocean. As time passed by, though, his point that humans harm the marine species shifted to the seemingly unending global corruption within the fishing industry. To put it all into perspective, he even interviewed several professionals who’ve been looking into the matter for years, including one of his childhood heroes, Dr. Sylvia Earle. So, let’s find out all that there is to know about her, shall we?
Who is Dr. Sylvia Earle?
Born on August 30, 1935, in the Gibbstown part of Greenwich Township, Gloucester County, New Jersey, Dr. Sylvia Earle is a well-known marine biologist, explorer, oceanographer, author, and lecturer. Growing up as the second of three children with parents who loved the outdoors, it wasn’t surprising when Sylvia developed a taste for the natural world quite early on in her life. Therefore, when her family moved to an ambient waterfront property in Dunedin, Florida, the then-12-year-old Sylvia began exploring the nearby salt marshes and sea-grass beds.
Sylvia Earle received an associate degree from St. Petersburg Jr. College before majoring in Botany from Florida State University, graduating in 1955. From there, she went on to earn a Master’s degree and worked on a thesis, completing her Ph.D. on the subject in 1966. Having first learned how to deep-sea dive while attending FSU, Dr. Sylvia’s post-graduate work was a mixture of groundbreaking research and oceanographic exploration. In fact, her efforts here led her to begin a long-lasting association with the National Geographic Society to produce books and films about lives in the ocean.
In the ensuing years, Dr. Sylvia became a curator and research biologist at the California Academy of Sciences. Subsequently, in the early 1980s, she co-founded Deep Ocean Engineering and Deep Ocean Technology to design, operate, support, and consult on projects involving piloted and robotic subsea systems. In 1992, to further advance marine engineering, Dr. Sylvia founded Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (DOER). And as if all this wasn’t enough, from 1990 to 1992, she also served as the Chief Scientist at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Nicknamed “Her Deepness,” in 1998, Dr. Sylvia became the first female Explorer-in-Residence for the National Geographic Society. She has a log of more than 7,000 hours spent underwater. Throughout her career, Dr. Sylvia has penned over 150 scientific papers and books, including ‘Dive!: My Adventure in the Deep Frontier’ (1999), ‘Hello, Fish!: Visiting the Coral Reef’ (2001), ‘The Sweet Spot in Time. Why the Ocean Matters to Everyone, Everywhere’ (2012), and ‘Blue Hope: Exploring and Caring for Earth’s Magnificent Ocean’ (2014). You can also find Dr. Sylvia making appearances in many sea-related documentaries.
Despite being named “Hero for the Planet” by Time magazine, being a pioneer in the use of self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, setting a world record for the deepest untethered dive, and leading more than a hundred deep-sea expeditions, it seems like Dr. Sylvia Earle’s most proud accomplishment is that she is the founder of Mission Blue. Also known as the Sylvia Earle Alliance, Deep Search Foundation, and Deep Search, Mission Blue is an organization that aims to inspire action to explore and protect the ocean. After all, Dr. Sylvia says that “the ocean is the cornerstone of our life support system.”