The Ambassadors REVIEW
My Blue Wilderness
Sylvia Earle, Ph.D.
Explorer-in-Residence, National Geographic Society
Dr. Sylvia Earle is a marine biologist, explorer, author and lecturer who has led more
than 100 ocean expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater, including
setting a record for solo diving at a depth of 1,000 meters. Former chief scientist of the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Earle is currently Explorer-in-
Residence at the National Geographic Society. She has written an essay about her
lifelong relationship with the once-vibrant waters of the Gulf of Mexico as part of
special coverage of the oil spill in the October 2010 issue of National Geographic
magazine. It is reprinted by permission below.
hen I first ventured into the Gulf of Mexico in the 1950s, the sea
appeared to be a blue infinity too large, too wild to be harmed by
anything that people could do. I explored powder white beaches, dense
marshes, mangrove forests, and miles of sea grass meadows alive with pink sea urchins,
tiny shrimps, and seahorses half the size of my little finger. I learned to dive in unexplored
areas offshore from the many rivers that flow into the Gulf, where jungles of crimson,
green, and brown seaweed sprouted from rocky limestone reefs. Under the canopy of
golden forests of drifting sargassum, I swam with a floating zoo of small creatures: lacy
brown sea slugs, juvenile jacks, and flying fish no larger than dragonflies.
Diving into the cool water of Ichetucknee, Weeki Wachee, Wakulla, and other