Sylvia Earle's message

Legendary oceans explorer, Sylvia Earle, shares her thoughts on the Census of Marine Life.
07 October 2010

Interview with 

Sylvia Earle


A pioneer of deep sea exploration, Sylvia Earle has spent thousands of hours underwater and still holds the record for walking on the seabed deeper than any one else - in 1979 and she walked around 400 metres beneath the waves in a metal suit called "Jim". She has devoted her life to exploring and protecting the oceans - in 2009 she won the TED prize with her proposal to set up a global network of marine protected areas, what she calls "hope spots".

We asked her for her thoughts on the Census of Marine Life's achievements.

 Sylvia Earle

Find out more:

The SEAlliance


Sylvia - It's been said several times and I'll say it again, this is a wonderful beginning. Ten years is a long time, and it's set the stage for whatever follows

This really has stirred things up and makes it perfectly obvious that a great era, perhaps the greatest era of exploration is truly just beginning.

Some think it's all over and that we need to reach skywards for new frontiers, and we can find them there, and we need to do that. But mostly we need to do get to know this part of the university, this part of the solar system, this place that keeps us alive. 

It's critical for that great dream of human kind and that is to have peace. We cannot have peace among ourselves if we fail to make peace with nature.  And we're not. Right now we're not. We're cutting forests that have been growing for thousands of years. We're mining the oceans of its wildlife that has been developing for hundreds of millions of years. 

And I can forgive it only on the basis that people just don't know. They don't know. And yet we have the power of knowing and the Census of Marine Life has gone a long way toward putting things in perspective, that not only have we just begun to get to know this ocean planet and to appreciate that our lives are dependent on the oceans and the creatures. 

It's not just rocks and water out there. It's a living system that gives us oxygen, that grabs the carbon out of the atmosphere. That drives the food cycle, and not just the carbon cycle and the oxygen cycle but the water cycle  - it's where 97% of the water on the planet is. 

And without the ocean: no rain, no water, no life. We absolutely are dependent. We are sea creatures every bit as much as those magnificent umbers of individuals that the Census of Marine life has been cataloguing and celebrating at this occasion.


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