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Sylvia Earle"The first experience is going through the sunlit area and into the twilight zone where sunlight fades and darkness begins to take over. It's like the deepest twilight, or earliest dawn." —Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle made history in 1979 as the first and only person to walk solo on the bottom of the ocean floor. As a result, her fellow scientists gave her the nickname “Her Deepness,” and she returned to the surface with rich descriptions of the wonder she experienced on the bottom of our world. In this audio excerpt from our latest show with the oceanographer, Ms. Earle describes life on the ocean floor as if it were science fiction fantasy. Such bioluminescent, architectural creatures, she says, seem to come from somewhere in deep space rather than in the deepest recesses of our Earth.

About the photo: Sylvia Earle descends into the darkness, trekking with this "Jim" suit as her only protection from hundreds of pounds of pressure per square inch created by being a quarter-mile under from the ocean's surface.

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17 Comments

How surprising that enough light comes through at 1,000 feet so that shapes can been seen. Fascinating.

Sylvia Earle: May you live long enough to see humanity make the transition to a resilient future. You are a great inspiration.

Thank You.

I grew up in Nebraska, so far from oceans; but I always wanted to go scuba diving. Now, at 51, I find that Sylvia Earle renewed that desire. She paints a beautiful picture of a place most of us would never know. WONDERFUL
It is also inspiring that she was never hindered by limitations of society, gender, or apparently fear. Thank you

I LOVE "ON BEING". IT HAS OPENED MY EYES TO SO MANY THINGS. I LISTEN ON MY SUNDAY DRIVE TO WORK AT 7 AM. THIS LAST SHOW IN PARTICULAR REALLY TOUCHED MY "HEART STRINGS". I AM SO VERY SAD AND CONCERNED WITH THE CONDITION OF OUR OCEANS,RAIN FORRESTS AND OVERALL ENVIORMENT. I HAVE BEEN SLOWLY MAKING SOME LIFESTYLE CHANGES. I AM TRYING TO DO MY PART AND TEACH MY CHILDREN AS WELL. I THINK SYLVIA EARLE REALY OPENED MY EYES (EVEN MORE) TO THE DESPERATE STATE OF OUR OCEANS AND HOW MUCH WE CONSUME. I SLOWLY HAVE BEEN CONVERTING TO A VEGETERIAN DIET. THE ONLY THING I COULDN'T QUITE LET GO OF WAS SEAFOOD. I HAVE ALWAYS ENJOYED FISH,CRAB,SUSHI,EVEN CANNED FISH. BUT, KNOWING WHAT I KNOW, I CANNOT CONTINUE TO EAT SEA CREATURES THAT ARE HANGING ON TO THEIR EXISTENCE. I STOPPED EATING LAND ANIMALS FOR SPIRITUAL,ETHICAL,AND ENVIORMENTAL REASONS. I HAVE READ ABOUT THE TROUBLE MARINE LIFE HAS BEEN EXPERIENCING AS WELL AND HOW MUCH IT IS EXPLOITED. TODAYS SHOW WITH SYLVIA EARLE HAS COMPLETELY CONVINCED ME TO JUST GIVE UP THE SUSHI AND CRAB LEGS. MARINE LIFE IS AS IMPORTANT TO THE EARTH AS ANY OTHER KIND OF LIFE. LIFE IS LIFE, PERIOD. AS SYLIA PUT IT, EVEN A LEAF IS AN AMAZING LIFE FORCE, IT GIVES US AIR THROUGH PHOTOSYNTHESIS. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "AN INSIGNIFICANT LIFE". THANK YOU FOR THE WONDERFUL SHOWS YOU BROADCAST. IT GIVES ME HOPE. SINCERELY, KATIE SALVATORI

One of my deepest yearnings from my childhood was to be a marine biologist, to dive deep and see the ocean from it's own perspective. Of course, one of my other deepest yearnings has been to see the world through spiritual practice, and be open to the wonder that that affords. This episode makes me wonder if they aren't the same yearning.

What a beautiful and inspirational portrayal of our water world. Thank you!

I listened to the On Being interview Sunday June 10 and found it interesting until the section dealing with the reported negative impact upon the seas came up and was the major focus of Dr. Earl's comments. Why, 50 years ago the seas were less troubled, especially the Gulf of Mexico. I submit that California was in better shape 50 years ago as well compared with the way it is run today.
While our astronauts walked upon the surface of the Moon from 1969 to the mid 70s photographs of Earth were taken and the immensity of the waters came through loaud and clear. Mankind is egotistical to think that such vastness can be corrupted by our (capitalistic) activities. Dr. Earl admitted that we have explored a mere 5% of the ocean floors yet she made broadbrush statements about the impact of ocean industries.
She remarked about the impact on sea life of seismic surveys. I submit that this is a bogus argument. Staggered arrays of airgun sources of directed sound waves have little effect upon marine life. The calls of whales emit more noise than do seismic sources.
When she brought up the topic of the use of fossil fuels I concluded that this discussion was no more than what one hears from the Sierra Club or the EDF and I turned off the program.
I thought I would hear more about the sea life and the adaptive nature of creatures living at extreme depths. Instead I heard a Green message. What would she have to say about the closing of many farm lands in the breadbasket region of California in favor of a small delta fish? This example is a true impact of mankind causing an environmental problem.

I found her interview both engaging and inspiring. Regarding your 5% comment, what we've explored in no way reflects our ability to account for what we've destroyed. Dr. Earle was right to promote a conservation and protection message. Unfortunately you heard through strange filters and equated her optimistic and realistic call for better treatment of our oceans as an attack on ocean industries and California? I didn't hear anything of the sort and she, who doesn't eat fish, even gave options (catfish, talapia) to others who don't share her eating choices. I believe your anti-green filter is set over over-sensitive.

Sylvia - You have been an inspiration to many of us in the field for marine conservation. Dive on and discover for many years to come!

here is a link to a TED talk video of the Jackson Browne song Sylvia Earle mentioned during her discussion with Krista Tippett. i was expecting it to be included with the show soundtrack, but since it wasn't, here it is!

Sylvia, your use of language to describe your under world adventure is wonderful poetry! You ar courageous, talented and inspirational. Thank you for sharing!

I was 22 in 79.To hear you describe your journey and what you saw at the bottom of the Sea. Truley touched me. i got a sence of what you saw in 79. Thank You

Krista Tippet's interview with Sylvia Earle was one of the most interesting and inspiring interviews I've ever heard. I've been thinking about this interview all day and Sylvia's perspective on life and the value of life touched me very deeply. I am truly inspired by Sylvia's wisdom and respect for life and want to thank Krista for bringing us this incredible interview!

Krista Tippet's interview with Sylvia Earle was one of the most interesting and inspiring interviews I've ever heard. I've been thinking about this interview all day and Sylvia's perspective on life and the value of life touched me very deeply. I am truly inspired by Sylvia's wisdom and respect for life and want to thank Krista for bringing us this incredible interview!

The macro & micro world seem uncannily alike. The electron microscope allows one access to sights quite often similar to those experiences from the Hubble & Cassini telescopes. "Her Deepness" last two sentences reflects this paradox, no?

I always love "On Being", and found this interview with Sylvia Earle to be one of the most moving and inspirational. I cried through much of it. And I resolve to stop eating all fish save tilapia and catfish - and fewer of those, as well. I see many, many many more beans in my future. On a more fundamental life, Sylvia Earle's passion and vibrancy make me start rethinking how I spend the rest of my life. How indeed can I lend my talents to fully hold the beauty of this life on earth in my heart, and safeguard it to the best of my abilities? Thank you Krista, thank you Sylvia.

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