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Diving into the Unknown: Sylvia Earle's Impact on Ocean Conservation

Updated: 6 days ago

Biologist, Ocean Conservationist, Explorer, and the first woman to run NOAA, puts her mouth where her heart is, Dr. Sylvia Earle.

When I was a small child, I remember my mother saying "Geoffrey, It is important to respect and listen to your elders; they have experience."

My father competed in long-distance sailboat races that took our family to many interesting places across the sea, from Hawaii to the South Pacific, and across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. I realized at a young age that I have saltwater in my blood. I was a child of the sea. I also loved learning about what was going on below the waves. I took up snorkeling and scuba. On land, I enjoyed reading about the sea through Ernest Hemingway, Jacques Cousteau, and National Geo Explorer Magazine, and later reading articles on Dr. Sylvia Earle. In 2017 she was on the cover of Time Magazine as a woman who changed the world (she was the first woman to be appointed chief scientist of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA). Last year I saw her in the film Seaspiracy. When I received the news that she was going to be speaking at a Wavemakers Event (helping to encourage kids into STEM) in Palm Beach at Friends of The Manatee Lagoon Center, I knew I had to meet her! I am still taking my mother's words to heart and that is why I am listening to Sylvia Earle about Ocean Conservation.

Dr. Earle holding a whale sculpture by Geoffrey Smith.
Dr. Earle received my Right Whale Sculpture at an event. I am so proud!

Meeting her

Sylvia is a woman worth listening to. She has earned it. There is such a buzz around her because she points out actionable steps we can use to possibly save the Earth as we know it. That is not an exaggeration. So, what is she saying?

According to her website Mission Blue (see below for a link), She says:

  1. Lower your carbon footprint: Our greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate change and ocean acidification. By driving less and carpooling, flying less, using less electricity, choosing renewable energy (solar power, hybrid vehicles, etc) whenever possible and voting for policymakers who believe in solving climate change, we can all make a big difference for the ocean and all of life on Earth.

  2. Choose not to eat marine wildlife: Overfishing is another huge issue impacting the ocean. By choosing not to eat seafood, or as Dr. Earle calls it, marine wildlife, we can help by showing fisheries that there’s less demand for their fish supply and we want them to leave the fish, mollusks and other edible marine life in the sea where it belongs. Of course, many people around the world depend on protein from the ocean to survive, and artisanal fisheries are crucial for many coastal populations. But in America and other developed countries, we have more of a choice.

  3. Stop using single-use plastics: Plastic pollution is clogging up waterways and poisoning marine creatures from sea turtles to fish and seabirds. By carrying a reusable water bottle and avoiding using plastic drinking straws, utensils, etc., we can greatly reduce the amount of plastic thrown into landfills that often release plastics into the ocean.

  4. Use your own special talent to help fight for the ocean “Look in the mirror, consider your talents, and think about how you might use them to make a difference. Some have artistic skills, others are good with numbers or have a way with words. Everyone has power to make a difference as an individual, or by joining the company of others who share a common goal. The key is in knowing that what you do matters, including doing nothing!” – Dr. Sylvia Earle

I hope you enjoyed learning about an amazing scientist, Dr. Sylvia Earle! Let's all follow her lead.

Be Well, Be Loved,

Geoffrey Smith

If you wish to learn more about the North Atlantic Right Whale named Pilgrim that inspired the sculpture Dr Earle recieved. Please click the link.


Citation Sites:

Earle is president and chair of Mission Blue, an organization that advocates for legal protection and conservation of the world’s oceans.

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