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Woman Wanderer:  Sylvia Earle, ocean explorer

Woman Wanderer: Sylvia Earle, ocean explorer

[Above: Screen shot of Earle coming up from a dive, via China Daily's website]

Love mermaids? Me, too. I remember getting a copy of The Little Mermaid one Easter—and the blur of re-watching its’ namesake Disney princess under grand, wild waters.

My seven-year-old self never knew a betrayal quite like when Ariel traded her fins for legs. Why would you give up the entire ocean for some boy? (For the record, that one still baffles me.)

I wish I had known as much about Sylvia Earle as I had about that cartoon sea dweller at that age. To trade those Little Mermaid hours for time learning about one of the world’s most decorated oceanographers and underwater explorers would’ve changed everything, I know it.

See, Earle is everything a real mermaid should be and more (a hell of a lot more, really). 

Nicknamed “Her Deepness,” National Geographic states Earle’s “led more than a hundred expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater” (Which is probably more below-tide time than Ariel could dream of).

What’s even more impressive than the diver deserving her own aquatic equivalent of frequent flyer miles? Nat Geo goes on to add she led the first-ever all female dive back in 1970 and has set a women’s record for diving depth (clocking in at 381 meters, touching the sea floor near Hawaii).

[Above: Screen shot from Earle's Facebook, showing her and her team in action.] 

Her work, focussing in remote and deep locations, has changed human knowledge of oceans. Glamour magazine says she’s responsible for “the discovery of tens of thousands of species of aquatic life.” In the same piece, Al Gore is quoted as saying we understand the ocean’s importance because of Earle’s work.

She is one of the biggest explorers of oceans, an almost Magellan of water.

And, through challenging politicians and giving public talks, she wants us all to fall in love with all things salt water, too.

Ariel was a girl who ran away from the ocean. Earle is a woman running towards it. 

I know which one I wanna be like.


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