Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen
If you are in any way concerned about the health of our oceans and what that means to the overall well-being of our planet, and you don’t know who Sylvia Earle is, then it is imperative you do so…and now.
By Ken Kreisler
Her resume and background reads like just what you would expect from this dynamic woman whose passion and very being is connected to protecting the world’s oceans. Known with genuine affection as Her Deepness or The Sturgeon General, Dr. Sylvia Alice Earle is an oceanographer, aquanaut, and lecturer.
She is the author of more than 125 publications concerning marine science and technology including the books Exploring the Deep Frontier, Sea Change (1995), Wild Ocean: America’s Parks Under the Sea (1999) and The Atlas of the Ocean (2001), she has participated in numerous television productions and given scientific, technical, and general interest lectures in more than 60 countries. Children’s books that she has written include Coral Reefs, Hello Fish, Sea Critters, and Dive!
In 1986, Earle tied the world solo dive depth record in a sub (and setting the record for a woman), going 1000m in Deep Ocean Engineering’s Deep Rover. She was a chief scientist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 1990 to 1992. Since 1998 she has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence; was named by Time Magazine as the first Hero for the Planet; was leader of the Sustainable Seas Expeditions; sat on the council chair for the Harte Research Institute for the Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi; was founder and chairman of the Deep Search Foundation; and finally, the chair of the Advisory Council for the Ocean in Google Earth. And in her spare time, Dr.Earle has founded three companies which includes Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (DOER Marine Operations), a company now run by her daughter Elizabeth, which continues to design, build and operate equipment for deep ocean environments.
In 2009, Earle won a TED Prize. With TED’s support, she launched Mission Blue, which aims to establish marine protected areas (dubbed “hope spots”) around the globe. With Mission Blue and its partners, Earle led expeditions to prospective hope spots: Cuba in 2009,Belize in January 2010, the Galápagos Islands in April 2010, and the Mesoamerican Reef in July 2011. There is more but I think you get the picture of who we’re dealing with here.
Recently, Dr. Earle reached out to the owners, captains, and crews of superyachts during a meeting in Ft. Lauderdale for help in furthering not only existing research, but assisting in critical data collection for future studies.
“We are united in the common interest in the blue part,” Earle said, pointing to the oceans on a spaceshot of Earth. “I want to know how the power of megayachts might be used in a positive way. This is a community of people who already care. It must begin with awareness,” she said.
“Sure, the problems are what we put in the oceans and what we take out,” Earle remarked. “But the biggest problem is to recognize that the oceans are in trouble.”
Kevin Hardy of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography seeks yachts to help his group deploy instruments to measure data at the sea bottom. He showed video of one of the small robotic machines he invented that, when dropped overboard, fall to the sea floor, record data, and floats back to the surface.
“Practically every time we do this, we discover a new creature,” he said.
Hardy has traveled to the ocean’s major trenches on every type of superyacht, boat, fishing trawlers to research vessels. “The hard part is getting out to these areas.”
Fabian Cousteau, grandson of legendary marine explorer Jacques Cousteau, shared a sentiment from his grandfather, that people with interest and ability have an obligation to use them. “It’s time we stopped living on this planet and start living with it.”
The scientific panel was sponsored by SeaKeepers International, a non-profit organization that fits superyachts with an ocean and atmospheric monitoring system, to bring researchers and yachts closer to their similar goals.
“What are we waiting for?” Earle asked. “We’ve been to the moon. Let’s send people to the ocean’s depths. Yachts have helicopters, she said, so why not more submersibles? Explore what is underneath the boat,” she said.
She knows what’s underneath a yacht; Earle set a record for her dive in an atmospheric diving suit in 1979 (to 1,250′) and she holds the women’s record for a solo dive in a deep submersible (to 3,280′).
“Yachts can be especially valuable for the opportunity they provide others to appreciate the oceans,” she said, even by offering scuba diving. “And when people know the waters more intimately, they will appreciate and care for them.”
“Our ability to deplete resources is at an all-time high,” Earle opined. “But so is our ability to restore.”
While the title of this essay has biblical roots, for me, its literal interpretation rings with a far clearer and more resonant understanding of our place on this planet and what our stewardship has meant to it so far. Sylvia Earle is truly one of those people who displays a certain kind of quality in which humankind finds possibilities. Her lifelong commitment to rise above mediocrity and defend the planet is shared my many but so far, only a few have chosen to follow. How about you?
If you have any thoughts on this subject, please feel free to contact me by using the Leave A Comment feature at the bottom of the page. You can learn more about SeaKeepers International and Sylvia Earle by visiting their Websites: http://www.seakeepers.com http://www.sylviaearlealliance.org,
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