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37 Famous And Inspiring – Sylvia Earle – Ocean Conservation Quotes

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No woman has done more to further marine science and ocean conservation than Sylvia Earle. Sampled from her life’s work, these are her words.

Inspiring – Sylvia Earle – Ocean Conservation Quotes

“The living ocean drives planetary chemistry, governs climate and weather, and otherwise provides the cornerstone of the life-support system for all creatures on our planet, from deep-sea starfish to desert sagebrush.

That’s why the ocean matters. If the sea is sick, we’ll feel it. If it dies, we die. Our future and the state of the oceans are one.”

“We have been far too aggressive about extracting ocean wildlife, not appreciating that there are limits and even points of no return.”

“No water, no life. No blue, no green.”

“So, should we race to see how quickly we can consume the last tuna, swordfish, and grouper? Or race to see what can be done to protect what remains?

For now, there is still a choice.”

Famous And Inspiring – Sylvia Earle – Ocean Conservation Quotes


Sylvia A. Earle is a former chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a leading American oceanographer. She was the first woman to serve in that position.
In 1998 Sylvia Earle became the National Geographic Society’s first female explorer in residence and is referred to as “Her Deepness.”

“People ask: Why should I care about the ocean? Because the ocean is the cornerstone of earth’s life support system, it shapes climate and weather. It holds most of life on earth. 97% of earth’s water is there.

It’s the blue heart of the planet-we should take care of our heart. It’s what makes life possible for us. We still have a really good chance to make things better than they are.

They won’t get better unless we take the action and inspire others to do the same thing. No one is without power. Everybody has the capacity to do something.”

“Places change over time with or without oil spills, but humans are responsible for the Deepwater Horizon gusher – and humans, as well as the corals, fish, and other creatures, are suffering the consequences.”

“Ocean acidification – the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is turning the oceans increasingly acid – is a slow but accelerating impact with consequences that will greatly overshadow all the oil spills put together.

The warming trend that is CO2-related will overshadow all the oil spills that have ever occurred put together.”

“Nothing has prepared sharks, squid, krill, and other sea creatures for industrial-scale extraction that destroys entire ecosystems while targeting a few species.”

Famous And Inspiring – Sylvia Earle – Ocean Conservation Quotes


 Sylvia Earle received her Ph.D. in botany in 1966. For her dissertation, Earle collected more than 20,000 samples of algae to catalog aquatic plants in the Gulf of Mexico. Her project was a marvel in the discipline, as she was one of the first scientists to use SCUBA to document marine life firsthand, and it remained a landmark study for decades.  

“As a child, I was aware of the widely-held attitude that the ocean is so big, so resilient that we could use the sea as the ultimate place to dispose of anything we did not want, from garbage and nuclear wastes to sludge from sewage to entire ships that had reached the end of their useful life.”

“Some experts look at global warming, increased world temperature, as the critical tipping point that is causing a crash in coral reef health around the world.

And there’s no question that it is a factor, but it’s preceded by the loss of resilience and degradation.”

“I have heard endlessly that fish are so resilient that there is no way that you could exterminate a species.

We are learning otherwise.”

“Far and away, the greatest threat to the ocean, and thus to ourselves, is ignorance. But we can do something about that.”

Famous And Inspiring – Sylvia Earle – Ocean Conservation Quotes


In 1970, Sylvia Earle and four other oceanographers lived in an underwater chamber for fourteen days as part of the government-funded Tektite II Project, designed to study undersea habitats. The habitat was located about 15 meters (about 50 feet) below the surface of Great Lameshur Bay off the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Just as we have the power to harm the ocean, we have the power to put in place policies and modify our own behavior in ways that would be an insurance policy for the future of the sea, for the creatures there, and for us, protecting special critical areas in the ocean.”

“I’m haunted by the thought of what Ray Anderson calls ‘tomorrow’s child,’ asking why we didn’t do something on our watch to save sharks and bluefin tuna and squids and coral reefs and the living ocean while there still was time. Well, now is that time.”

“People still do not understand that a live fish is more valuable than a dead one, and that destructive fishing techniques are taking a wrecking ball to biodiversity.”

“The sudden release of five million barrels of oil, enormous quantities of methane, and two million gallons of toxic dispersants into an already greatly stressed Gulf of Mexico will permanently alter the nature of the area.”

Famous And Inspiring – Sylvia Earle – Ocean Conservation Quotes


On September 19, 1979, Sylvia Earle set the world untethered diving record, descending 381 meters (1,250 feet) beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean in a JIM diving suit, a special diving apparatus that maintains an interior pressure of 1 standard atmosphere (14.70 pounds per square inch).
(At 1,250 feet, she detached from the submersible and explored the seafloor for two and a half hours).

“Ten percent of the big fish still remain. There are still some blue whales. There are still some krill in Antarctica. There are a few oysters in Chesapeake Bay.

Half the coral reefs are still in pretty good shape, a jeweled belt around the middle of the planet. There’s still time, but not a lot, to turn things around.”

“There is a terribly terrestrial mindset about what we need to do to take care of the planet-as if the ocean somehow doesn’t matter or is so big, so vast that it can take care of itself, or that there is nothing that we could possibly do that we could harm the ocean…

We are learning otherwise.”

“I hope for your help to explore and protect the wild ocean in ways that will restore health and, in so doing, secure hope for humankind. Health to the ocean means health for us.”

“We still have the illusion that the ocean will recover. That even if we do have to lose sharks, people don’t understand why this matters.

The evidence is in front of us, and we fail to take it in and say, “Now I get it. Now I understand.”

Famous And Inspiring – Sylvia Earle – Ocean Conservation Quotes


During the early 1980s, Sylvia Earle founded Deep Ocean Engineering and Deep Ocean Technology with British engineer Graham Hawkes, her third husband. Together they designed the submersible Deep Rover, a vehicle capable of reaching depths of 914 meters (3,000 feet) beneath the surface of the ocean.

“Bottom trawling is a ghastly process that brings untold damage to sea beds that support ocean life. It’s akin to using a bulldozer to catch a butterfly, destroying a whole ecosystem for the sake of a few pounds of protein.

We wouldn’t do this on land, so why do it in the oceans?”

“Sharks are beautiful animals, and if you’re lucky enough to see lots of them, that means that you’re in a healthy ocean. You should be afraid if you are in the ocean and don’t see sharks.”

“I’m not against extracting a modest amount of wildlife out of the ocean for human consumption, but I am really concerned about the large-scale industrial fishing that engages in destructive practices like trawling and longlining.”

“Why is it that scuba divers and surfers are some of the strongest advocates of ocean conservation?

Because they’ve spent time in and around the ocean, and they’ve personally seen the beauty, the fragility, and even the degradation of our planet’s blue heart.”

Famous And Inspiring – Sylvia Earle – Ocean Conservation Quotes


Throughout her career, Sylvia Earle has authored more than 200 publications, lectured in more than 80 countries, and led more than 100 marine expeditions (totaling over 7,000 hours under water). She has received 27 honorary degrees and more than 100 honors from around the world.

“The burning of fossil fuels has altered the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere so rapidly and so abundantly that now, we are driving not just the warming trend, not just the sea level rise that is a consequence of the warming trend that is melting polar ice and alpine ice, but also (ocean acidification).”

“Our insatiable appetite for fossil fuels and the corporate mandate to maximize shareholder value encourages drilling without taking into account the costs to the ocean, even without major spills.”

“Since the middle of the 20th century, more has been learnt about the ocean than during all preceding human history; at the same time, more has been lost.”

“Just as we have the power to harm the ocean, we have the power to put in place policies and modify our own behavior in ways that would be an insurance policy for the future of the sea, for the creatures there, and for us, protecting special critical areas in the ocean.”

Famous And Inspiring – Sylvia Earle – Ocean Conservation Quotes


Sylvia Earle is the president and Chairman of the Mission Blue/Sylvia Earle Alliance, an ocean advocacy group. Their most recent effort is to develop a global network of “Hope Spots,” dedicated to protecting the biodiversity on which Earth’s interconnected ecosystems depend, particularly in light of the accelerating threat of climate change.  

“This is a living planet. Look around. Mars, Venus, Jupiter. Look beyond our solar system. Where else is there a place that works, that is just right for the likes of us?

It has not happened just instantly. It is vulnerable to our actions. But it’s the result of four and a half billion years of evolution, of change over time. And it changes every day, all the time.

It would be in our interest to try to maintain a certain level of stability that has enabled us to prosper, to not wreck the very systems that give us life.”

“With respect to the ocean being the heart of our blue planet: We are often asked, ‘How much protection is enough?’ We can only answer with another question: How much of your heart is worth protecting?”

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In Summary

Sylvia Alice Earle is a renowned marine biologist who has dedicated her life to marine research and ocean conservation.

She has written hundreds of scientific papers, plus many books, and raised the public’s awareness of the threat to our oceans by speaking in many documentaries and lectures.

She has also led more than 100 expeditions, logged more than 7000 hours underwater, and led the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite Project in 1970.

Her lifetime contribution to science and the ocean is unequaled, so I hope that you enjoyed my favorite list of Sylvia Earle quotes about the ocean and how she highlights the need for conservation.

A proud father of two boys, an amateur actor, and a green living enthusiast, Mark has been sharing hints, tips, and sustainable living content on his website Sustainability Dad since august 2019.

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