Sylvia Earle Honored by Royal Geographic Society

Renowned diver, oceanographer, advocate, and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Sylvia Earle was honored this week by the UK’s Royal Geographic Society.

Sylvia Earle Receiving the Royal Geographic Society's 2011 Patron's Medal © RGS-IBG/Howard Sayer

Each year the Society awards two Royal Medals, which it describes as “amongst the highest honours in the world for the development and promotion of geography.” The Founder’s Medal went to Professor David Livingstone, “in recognition of his outstanding encouragement, development and promotion of historical geography.” Dr. Earle received the Patron’s Medal, an honor shared in the past by Sir Edmund Hillary, Captain Robert Falcon Scott and other highly esteemed explorers. (Visit the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. now through August 21, 2011 for “Race to the End of the Earth” an exhibit celebrating the expeditions of Scott and Amundsen one hundred years ago.)

While the award is given in recognition of her nearly 60 years of contribution to oceanographic research, Dr. Earle characteristically used the opportunity of receiving the honor to look boldly to the future.

The Royal Geographic Society reports that she told the audience, “Since my first breath of air under the sea in 1953, I have had the joy of spending thousands of hours diving, living underwater, using submersibles, witnessing and sometimes participating in the greatest era of exploration in the history of humankind – so far.”

Be a part of the future of ocean exploration by getting inspired and taking action yourself. See photos, watch videos, and read about the incredible work being done by Sylvia Earle and others to explore and protect the ocean and its bizarre and beautiful creatures.


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Meet the Author
Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.