Changing Planet

Lifetime Achievement Award for Sylvia Earle

For decades, she has been diving beneath the ocean’s surface to bring back discoveries and an important alternative perspective to the rest of her land-loving species.

Breaking cultural barriers as well as world records and new scientific ground, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle has been a true explorer and pioneer. Now, Glamour magazine is recognizing both her long-term legacy and still-vital activities, presenting her with the 2014 Glamour Women of the Year Lifetime Achievement award.

Sylvia Earle has been diving and working with National Geographic for so long that we can reuse this illustration from the Magazine and the casual observer might just think it’s hip and retro, instead of 43 years old. (Illustration by Pierre Mion)

In her youth she snorkeled and dove for fun. In grad school in the 1950s she battled preconceived notions of a woman’s interests and abilities. In her early work she made long-duration walks on the sea floor in the Jim suit, and lived for extended periods in the Aquarius underwater lab. At the turn of the millennium she was diving in the innovative single-person Newtsub. All along, she has been a tireless advocate for exploration and understanding of the ocean’s importance to all life on Earth.

World-renown oceanographer Sylvia Earle gives a thumbs-up inside a submersible off the coast of Vancouver. (Photo by Natalie B. Fobes)
World-renown oceanographer Sylvia Earle gives a thumbs-up inside a submersible off the coast of Vancouver. (Photo by Natalie B. Fobes)

Now, still diving at every chance she gets, she speaks to everyone who will listen (and many who would rather not) about how over-fishing and climate change are combining to drastically alter this precious world within our world. She is a voice for the deep blue, an inspiration to women and to any scientist, activist, explorer, or innovator, and a challenge to any who think tough battles can’t be won.

See what Glamour has to say about her as well, but don’t just take our words for it. Watch below to see Sylvia’s passion in action, and listen to an extended interview from “On Being“.

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NG Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle

2014 Glamour Women of the Year

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.
  • Gabriella Francine is honored to dedicate our first Children’s Ocean book “Learn About Our Ocean” by Gabriella Francine to Sylvia.
    “No child left dry.”
    Dr. Sylvia Earle

    “Children are the Caretaker’s of the Future!”

  • Deborah Brown

    I have a science project on Sylvia Earle and seeing this video helps me so much. Mrs. Earle is the most extraordinary women I have ever heard of!!!

  • Ash hupp

    As a 12 year old I am very inspired by Sylvia Earle and her love for the ocean.

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