Time’s Hero for the Planet

An oceanographer and marine biologist, Sylvia Earle has been making waves in the scientific community from a youthful age. She is the ripple society needed to realize the global environment is in danger. Sylvia is one of the most influential environmental activists due to her thousands of hours of experience in the ocean, becoming a pioneer for women’s careers in science and creating not only new technology but authoring and co-authoring impeccable novels and children’s books.Born in Gibbstown, New Jersey to Lewis Reade and Alice Freas Earle on the 30th of August in 1935, the same year Elvis Presley had been born. At the time of Sylvia’s birth, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had signed the Social Security Act & Neutrality Act, the Spanish Civil War had begun, World War II was being anticipated and the Great Depression was in full swing. Her parents taught her to see all animals, especially the slimy ones, for their beauty rather than their unpleasantries. On her family’s farm in Paulsboro, New Jersey, the young Earle investigated a pond on the family’s land. She filled a notebook with observations of all the creatures that lived in the pond and eventually draw the creatures.

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Sylvia explained in her book Sea Change, “The ‘urge to submerge’ came on early and continues, seasoned and made more alluring by thousands of underwater hours each one heightening the excitement of the last as one discovery leads to another, each new scrap of information triggering awareness of dozens of new unknowns.” Her mother Alice had an affinity for animals too, inducing a passion in her daughter. The Earle family moved to Florida and the ocean itself became Sylvia’s backyard. Jacques Cousteau became one of Dr. Earle’s biggest role models. At only 16 years of age, Dr. Earle graduated high school. Sylvia earned her bachelor of science degree at Florida State University in the spring of 1955. Dr. Earle holds twelve honorary degrees from various colleges and university including Duke University and Harvard University. Harold Humm is said to have been the closest thing Dr. Earle had to a mentor and role model. She named the pink algae she discovered on a simple dive Hummbrella Hydra to pay homage to Dr. Humm.

He was not only her first college professor but a close friend. So close, that she followed him to Duke University and took his place on the Anton Bruun in 1964. Not only does she claim a Ph.D. but over 6,000 hours under the sea, the number continues to grow weekly. In 1990, George W Bush requested that Sylvia head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She served until 1992 when she resigned believing she could do more for the ocean as a citizen rather than a government official. Her goal became education of the public and finding solutions to ocean pollution. During her service though, she did speak with Japanese leaders and ended up at a depth of 13,065ft in Shinkai 6500. She looked upon Bill Clinton as he dubbed 1998 Year of The Oceans. Sylvia has not only been in a position of great authority but had the pleasure to speak with world leaders. She has been awarded Time’s Hero For The Planet.

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Time's Hero For The Planet. (2022, Apr 18). Retrieved May 17, 2022 , from

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