97% of Earth’s water is ocean. Without the ocean, Earth would be much like Mars: a bleak, barren, inhospitable place.
Question: What do you do as National rnGeographic'srnexplorer-in-residence?rnrn
SylviarnEarle:As explorer inrnresidence at the National Geographic I have license to play. I have a relatively long leash to bernable to do what the title suggests, go explore. It’srn really great to have the backing of thatrninstitution. They give me a littlernnest in Washington D.C. and the support to go out and put together rnexpeditions,rnto find the resources, to do what I try to do best, that is to explore,rnresearch, understand and take care of the ocean, especially the wild, rnnaturalrnparts of the sea.rnrn
Question: How does the undersea world rnrelate to our lifernon land?rnrn
Sylvia Earle: People have been exploring rnfrom the surfacernfor as long as people have been getting to the ocean, but getting into rnthernocean is still tricky business and it’s only in very recent times that rnwe’vernhad the technology that can take us more than as deep as you can go rnholdingrnyour breath. Perhaps some peoplerndid that centuries ago, but to actually go down and stay awhile, to be rnable torngo to 1,000 feet, 10,000 feet, ultimately the full ocean depth, that rntakes morernthan we carry around with us in our skin. rnYou need to have technology as a partner. Why,rn because that is where the action is. That is rnwhere most of life on earthrnis. That is where most of thernwater is. 97% of Earth’s water isrnocean. Without the ocean, withoutrnwater Earth would be much like Mars, a bleak, barren, inhospitable placern forrnthe likes of us and the rest of life on Earth as well. Irn somehow understood this from an earlyrnstage imagining first of all what does the ocean… what is the ocean and rnthenrnwhat would it be like without the ocean? rnOne thing that we didn’t know when I first began exploring was rnhowrnextensive the mountains and valleys or even life itself is in the sea, rntherndiscovery of mountain ranges, of plate tectonics, the processes that rndrive thernmovement of continents that shape the character of oceans. Oceans come and go over long periods ofrntime. Those things have only comerninto focus during the 20th century, mostly during the latter part of thern 20thrncentury and so far we have only seen about well 5% of the ocean. It’s a huge part of the solar system,rnthis planet that has not been looked at even once let alone put on the rnballotrnsheet with respect to understanding how the world works and why we need rnto takerncare of the ocean.
Recorded April 14th, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allenrnrn