Last week, world-renowned marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle spoke to ANSEP students, staff and supporters at our 2017 Celebration. As an oceanographer, explorer, author and leader of the first female team of aquanauts, Earle’s words inspired and captivated the attention of those fortunate enough to hear her speak.
Earle’s success story began long before her debut at ANSEP. She recalls, at the age of three, becoming curious about the natural world that surrounded her. Her parents encouraged her to be hands on and ask questions.
“Kids are natural explorers, natural scientists. Kids do what explorers do, and that’s ask questions,” Earle said. “I was fortunate to have parents who said ‘go outside and play’ – they never told me to stop. My parents created a sense of empathy, to imagine the world through someone else’s eyes.”
Earle grew her passion for exploring into a career after receiving her Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University and her master’s and doctorate degrees from Duke University. Today, she has led more than 100 expeditions, logged more than 7,000 hours underwater and holds the record for solo diving at 1,000 meters. She is the founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, Inc. and Mission Blue and SEAlliance, and she also serves as chair of the Advisory Councils of the Harte Research Institute and the Ocean in Google Earth.
With her impressive resume and lifetime of stories and experience comes a pioneering outlook.
“We are agents of change, so it’s up to us to do everything we can to take care of the natural world,” she said. “I’ve been a witness to the greatest era of change until now. Now, you are the witnesses to the greatest era of human change in all of civilization. We should all do everything we can to protect the natural world. Protect it like your life depends on it because it does.”
Earle emphasizes the importance of asking questions, to continue exploring and find a passion.
“Find something you love, polish it and make it your own. You don’t learn things and keep them to yourself, you learn them and pass them on,” Earle said.