2012 Jury Member

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Location: United States

Sylvia Earle
United States, Born 1935

Sylvia Earle has been at the frontier of deep-ocean exploration for more than four decades. Dubbed “Her Deepness” by The New York Times, a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress and a “Hero for the Planet” by Time, Earle is a tireless champion of the oceans.


As a child vacationing on the New Jersey shore, “life in the ocean captured my imagination and has held it ever since,” says the American explorer whose parents encouraged her curiosity.

Earle, who has a Ph.D. from Duke University, has logged nearly 7,000 hours underwater and led more than 100 expeditions, including, in 1970, the first all-female aquanaut mission to live underwater (for two weeks), setting records along the way.

In the 1980s and 1990s, she founded three deep-ocean exploration and research companies to develop new technologies; served on the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere; and, for two years, was chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Earle was named
Time magazine's first "hero for the planet" in 1998, and initiated Mission Blue with her 2009 TED Prize, creating “hope spots”, networks of marine protected areas.

Today, an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, a lecturer and author of books such as The World is Blue (2009), the much-honoured Earle is a director of many corporate and non-profit organizations.

Other 2012 Jury Members