Wednesday, April 15, 2015

5 Questions With Shark Stanley: Sylvia Earle

Dr. Sylvia Earle and Shark Stanley in China.
One name gets mentioned more than all others when we ask people to name their ocean heroes: Sylvia Earle.  She is our newest Shark Ambassador

Sylvia Earle, called "Her Deepness" by the New Yorker and the New York Times, "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress and "Hero for the Planet" by Time, is an oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer with a deep commitment to research through personal exploration.

Earle's work has been at the frontier of deep ocean exploration for four decades. Earle has led more than 50 expeditions worldwide involving more than 6,000 hours underwater. As captain of the first all-female team to live underwater, she and her fellow scientists received a ticker-tape parade and White House reception upon their return to the surface. In 1979, Sylvia Earle walked untethered on the sea floor at a lower depth than any other woman before or since. In the 1980s she started the companies Deep Ocean Engineering and Deep Ocean Technologies with engineer Graham Hawkes to design and build undersea vehicles that allow scientists to work at previously inaccessible depths. In the early 1990s, Dr. Earle served as Chief Scientist of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. At present she is explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society.

Dr. Earle reading The Adventures of Shark Stanley and Friends to students in China
Sylvia Earle is a dedicated advocate for the world's oceans and the creatures that live in them. Her voice speaks with wonder and amazement at the glory of the oceans and with urgency to awaken the public from its ignorance about the role the oceans plays in all of our lives and the importance of maintaining their health.

We ask our Shark Ambassadors the same set of five questions. Here's what Dr. Earle had to say:

Why are sharks important to you?
Sharks are important to the health of the ocean. Healthy oceans are important for people. If the ocean is in trouble, we are in trouble. If sharks are in trouble, we are in trouble. Taking care of sharks means taking care of the ocean and taking care of us.

How are we going to save the world’s sharks?
The best way is to stop killing them. The next important step is to protect the ocean, where sharks live. There is more than one way to kill a shark – poison with pollution, take their food, destroy their habitat. The most important thing people must know is why sharks matter and to take action individually and together to respect them, stop killing them, and protect the ocean from harm.

How are you working to protect sharks?
I speak for sharks to fellow scientists, the general public, and anyone and everyone to inspire them to know to care about sharks. I continue to explore the ocean to observe what’s happening as a witness. If people know about sharks, they might care. They can’t care if they don’t know. I do what I can to convey the importance of sharks wherever and however I can.

Lots of people look up to you, who are your conservation heroes?
My heroes range from children who are doing what they can to influence the people around them to care for sharks, the ocean, and the natural world. Also, teachers, artists, musicians, scientists, business leaders, and politicians who individually and together use their power to take care of nature and work to make the world a better place.

What advice would you give to young scientists?
Be glad you are an aspiring scientist early in the 21st century armed with the opportunities that didn’t exist any time in the past. Never before could we know the importance of understanding the natural world and our place in it. Never again will there be a better time to use the power of knowing to ensure the enduring future of human kind. 90% of the ocean has never been seen by anyone. There are mysteries to be solved everywhere. The greatest era of exploration has just begun and you can be a part of it.
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