If there is unofficial royalty in the field of science, little doubt exists that 81-year-old oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle claims one of the highest ranks… Her stories sound like biology class fairy tales—she’s lived underwater 10 separate times, discovered hundreds of new species, and had a half-dozen or so named in her honor. Tucked into the romance of it all comes what’s arguably her life’s biggest mission: reminding the world that our oceans require saving.

In this video from Elle Magazine, Dr. Earle describes her first experience scuba diving, and how seeing the marine life along the west coast of Florida changed the direction of her life and her life’s work. The video and a corresponding interview with Elle describes that work: helping to protect the planet through inspiration and education, as well as to establish more marine protected areas around the world. She also hopes to get others involved in any part of that process:

“Support national parks. Nominate places that you love and care about, whether on land or in the ocean, for protection as a Hope Spot by going to Mission Blue. Engage your friends and demand of your leaders that actions be taken to protect wildlife, to protect birds, to protect fish for heaven’s sake. We are the most domesticated creatures of all, but the wild creatures that shape the way the world works are in trouble. If they are, we are. Become as educated as you can personally—take advantage of the new means of learning and fall in love with books. Associate with people who care, whether it’s in school or in your community or through the Internet. Use your talents, whether it’s art or music or that you’re a teacher with a way with kids or you’re a kid with a way with words or with math. Everyone can do something. Not everyone can do everything, but everyone can do something to make a difference.”

On our watchlist: Mission Blue, an original documentary about Dr. Earle.

Next, watch more pioneering women working in STEM fields: The Story of Jane Goodall and Her Chimps, Dr. Mae Jemison, NASA Astronaut, Celebrating Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, and France A. Córdova – Nautilus’ Spark of Science.

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