Earle, Sylvia





American Oceanographer
1935–

Sylvia Earle's achievements as an oceanographer have earned her nicknames such as "Her Deepness" and "The Sturgeon General." Earle was one of the first scuba divers to explore underwater habitats, and she made what is still the world's deepest solo dive in 1979, when she descended 380 meters (1,250 feet) in a pressurized garment off the coast of Hawaii.

In 1970, Earle led a group of women divers in one of several Tektite expeditions. The scientists lived for two weeks alongside coral reefs near the U.S. Virgin Islands in an underwater craft submerged 15 meters (50 feet) below the ocean's surface. This structure served as both motel and laboratory—scientists were able to watch undersea creatures swim by, in addition to spending as many as 10 to 12 hours in the water each day.

The diverse aquatic habitats Earle has investigated include waters off the coasts of Panama, China, and the Bahamas as well as the Indian Ocean. Earle has also explored a battleship graveyard in the South Pacific; followed sperm whales during their migrations from Hawaii to New Zealand, South Africa, and Alaska; and made a film about humpback whales. While studying humpbacks, she swam alongside them in the water and learned to distinguish different whales as individuals.

Earle has also discovered a wide variety of new marine species and discovered unusual landscape features such as undersea dunes off the coast of the Bahamas. The most serious mishap Earle suffered during her explorations occurred when she was stung by a poisonous lionfish while examining Japanese wrecks in Truk Lagoon.

In order to study the deepest parts of the ocean, Earle and her former husband, Graham Hawkes, built carefully engineered submersible crafts under their companies Deep Ocean Technology, Inc., and Deep Ocean Engineering, Inc. The submersible Deep Rover, for example, could explore depths of more than 900 meters (about 3,000 feet) and, as a result, revealed much about life in the deepest parts of the ocean.

Earle was born in Gibbstown, New Jersey, in 1935. She earned a bachelor's degree from Florida State University and a master's and doctorate from Duke University, where her dissertation addressed algae species in the Gulf of Mexico. She has held positions at the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida; the Farlow Herbarium at Harvard University; the

A young Sylvia Earle (circa 1970) prepares to dive in a JIM suit, a one-atmosphere armored dive suit. JIM is named after Jim Jarrett, Tritonia suit diver and Lusitania explorer.
A young Sylvia Earle (circa 1970) prepares to dive in a JIM suit, a one-atmosphere armored dive suit. JIM is named after Jim Jarrett, Tritonia suit diver and Lusitania explorer.
California Academy of Sciences; and the University of California, Berkeley. Earle also served as a chief scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration during the early 1990s.

Earle has written a number of books on her experiences as a diver, including Exploring the Deep Frontier: The Adventure of Man in the Sea and Dive!: My Adventures in the Deep Frontier. She also is the author of Hello, Fish and Sea Critters, which are directed at young adults; the National Geographic Atlas of the Ocean: The Deep Frontier; Wild Ocean: America's Parks Under the Sea; and The Oceans.

Earle has written a variety of technical papers and publications, including Tektite program publications on coral reef plants, invertebrates, and fishes. Her book Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans discusses human-caused damage to the oceans and represents one of her many efforts to promote underwater research and conservation of marine environments.

SEE ALSO M ARINE M AMMALS ; O CEANOGRAPHY , B IOLOGICAL ; O CEANOGRAPHY , P HYSICAL ; S UBMARINES AND S UBMERSIBLES ; W OMEN IN W ATER S CIENCES .

Jennifer Yeh

Bibliography

Earle, Sylvia A. Dive!: My Adventures in the Deep Frontier. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1999.

——. Hello, Fish. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1999.

——. National Geographic Atlas of the Ocean: The Deep Frontier. Washington, D.C.:National Geographic Society, 2001.

——. Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1995.

——. Sea Critters. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2000.

——. Wild Ocean: America's Parks Under the Sea. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1999.

Earle, Sylvia A., and Al Giddings. Exploring the Deep Frontier: The Adventure of Man in the Sea. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1980.

Prager, Ellen J., with Sylvia A. Earle. The Oceans. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000.

User Contributions:

Phoebe
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Mar 31, 2008 @ 3:15 pm
Hi I love what you do. I like it because I love the ocean.I think it is so beutiful.I think you are so brave.
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Sep 14, 2014 @ 8:08 am
Hello, so happy to read and watch you. Want to tell you about some land that my family has along the North Saskatchewan river in Alberta , Canada. Its one place that can be totally syustainable. Just needs some people to develop and make happen. Watching you and your achievements makes me feel so good. Makes me want to get out of this patriarchal way and out of this Iron age and some how get to the golden age in this lifetime. Hehe. I know. I've got a long wait. But, to be at all start of the switch is alright. After watching and studying what you have done, gives me the drive that I need to get this project alive. I'm a Buddhist and have lots of monks as friends and we would love to make this for Canada. We just don't know how to start. I thought we could talk and get to know each other. And through that getting to know each other I can show you picks of our development.
Our land has been in our family for over 100 yrs. 660 acres is farm land. About 30-50 acres is a untouched forest and untouched river bank that has about 2 miles of untouched river bank that we would like to make into a garden. Public garden open to people with knowledge about using river banks to grow rice, vegetables, grains, etc.
Right now we have a small road that takes u down to the river. There is a large campstop right along the river with a bi-level area for a structure. We are planning to make a large size Buddha to sit here. If I'm not mistaken, this would be the first Buddha like this. Also, a very unique area open for public. But, not open for profit. Open for sustaining and growing and developing a harmony with nature. I'm not asking for money. Just to talk and to show how you have given me such clarity of how me and my family and friends can truly make this happen. It would be my honour if I could one day talk to you and introduce myself.
Mrs. Earle I'm a unique gentleman that understands energy and harmony. Also of law of attraction. If I talk and show what is good for humans and good for the area and earth, the change will happen more with great enthusiasm and cooperation.
Mrs. Earle, hopefully one day you can come and see and stay by the river. We are planning to build meditation huts in the forest and along the river. Sort of like how they are in Lao. I'd pick you up in Edmonton and jet boat you out to your own spot along the river or forest. Once your here I'd love to show and explain and here what you have to say. Love to hear your ideas and have your presence in this truly remarkable place that has a healing effect.

Hope to hear back from you in the future,

Hugh Kulka

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