Our new purpose-built ship, the Sylvia Earle, is a floating ambassador for the planet that honours Dr. Sylvia Earle and six pioneering women in conservation.

There is no shortage of reasons why we chose Dr. Sylvia Earle as the namesake of our ship. She has an incredibly impressive rap sheet. Throughout her career, she has authored more than 200 publications and lectured in more than 80 countries. She has earned 27 honorary degrees and four times as many honours. In addition, she has led more than 100 marine expeditions, which equates to over 7,000 hours underwater. 

In 1990, she was the first woman to be appointed Chief Scientist of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. In 1998, the National Geographic Society made her the first female explorer in residence, the same year Time magazine named her the first Hero for the Planet. In 2009, she received the TED Prize, and in 2014, the United Nations dubbed her Champion of the Earth.

To celebrate her birthday, we’ve collated five fun facts and reasons why we can’t get enough of Dr. Sylvia Earle, her contributions to science and the important work she does to protect our oceans.

Sylvia Earle snorkeling in the Arctic


She has always been curious about exploring and protecting the natural world

When she was younger, Sylvia spent hours observing fish and tadpoles in the pond in her backyard. Later, she took to exploring further afield in nearby woods, salt marshes and sea grass beds.

Her lifelong commitment to sharing her passion for marine life with the world and helping people to understand the beauty and value of our oceans is unmatched. As president and Chairman of Mission Blue, she dreams of igniting public support for a global network of marine protected areas called ‘Hope Spots’.


She is one smart cookie

Sylvia graduated from high school at age 16 and university at age 19. By age 20 she had earned a master’s degree in Science from Duke University.


She has been lowering the bar since 1951

At university, Sylvia started scuba diving so she could study ocean plant life firsthand. She was among the first scientists to use diving to document marine life in her groundbreaking Ph.D. dissertation.

Working with a group of scientists as part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Man-in-Sea project in 1968, she descended 30 metres or 100 feet below the surface in a submersible vehicle. Not only was she the first female scientist to attempt this, she was also four months pregnant.

Affectionately called ‘Her Deepness’, Sylvia still holds the depth record for a solo dive she completed in 1979. Wearing a pressurised suit, she was carried to a depth of 380 metres or 1,250 feet, where she detached from the submersible and explored the sea floor untethered for over two hours.

Sylvia Earle diving; Michael Aw (Compressed)


She’s unstoppable 

In 1970, government officials denied her the opportunity to participate in a project that enabled scientists to live and work in an underwater habitat because of her gender. Thereupon, she took it upon herself to lead an all-female team to the habitat to observe the effects of pollution on coral reefs and photograph marine life. Consequently, when she and her team emerged after two weeks, they were celebrities.


She’s an entrepreneur

In the 1980s, Sylvia and her husband founded two companies that designed and constructed underwater vehicles that enabled scientists to work at unprecedented depths. 

Learn more about our Dr. Sylvia Earle and her mission

The Sylvia Earle

Our new small expedition ship, the Sylvia Earle, was designed for discovery and action-packed adventures in Antarctica, the Arctic & Beyond.

Certified as 100% Climate Neutral, it has a fully equipped Citizen Science Centre and Citizen Science programs to expand your knowledge and understanding of the places we visit. Our mission is to turn every passenger into a lifelong ambassador for the preservation and protection of the sacred places we explore.


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