Dr. Sylvia Earle , 2000
Sylvia is a marine biologist, lecturer, consultant, author (including Sea Change & Wild Deep), former Chief Scientist at NOAA, and founder and chairman of Deep Ocean Exploration & Research. She led the first team of women aquanauts in 1970. In 1979, Sylvia walked untethered on the sea floor at a lower depth than any living human being before or since. In the JIM, a pressurized one-atmosphere suit, she was carried by a submersible down to the depth of 1,250 feet, where she detached from the vessel and explored the depths for two and a half hours with only a communication line connecting her to the submersible, and nothing at all connecting her to the world above. Today, Sylvia is Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society. More recently, she led the Google Ocean Advisory Council, a team of 30 marine scientists providing content and scientific oversight for the Ocean in Google Earth." Among the more than 100 national and international honors she has received is the 2009 TED Prize for her proposal to establish a global network of marine protected areas. She calls these marine preserves "hope spots... to save and restore... the blue heart of the planet.""