The remarkable ocean explorer and conservationist – who famously became the first person to walk untethered on the ocean bed in 1979 – launched her foundation Mission Blue in 2009 and has so far created 140 of these Hope Spots. Such is Sylvia Earle’s iconic status when it comes to the preservation of the planet’s oceans that she is often referred to as “Her Deepness”.
The oceans represent nearly three- quarters of the earth’s surface and harbour most of the world’s biodiversity, but they are in trouble, Sylvia says. Many commercially exploited species of fish have declined by 90 percent, about half of the coral reefs have disappeared or experienced serious decline, and hundreds of coastal “dead zones” have developed.
Mission Blue is unique in that it is a network of ocean protection projects, created by local communities. Sylvia understands that it is only with the involvement of these communities, who rely on a clean ocean, and through education that the conservation of these ocean reserves can become sustainable.
To date, Mission Blue covers more than 57 million square kilometres of ocean. Among its supporters is Rolex and its Perpetual Planet initiative. Sylvia has been a Rolex Testimonee since 1982. “With support from the Rolex Perpetual Planet initiative, Mission Blue continues to expand its network of Hope Spots,” Sylvia says. “Since 2014, support from Rolex has also enabled us to lead 31 expeditions. The expedition programme has allowed our champions, scientists and partners to showcase their work in the field. These stories have inspired people to care and act to protect these precious habitats.”
This article first appeared in the 2022 annual special edition of YourLuxury Africa.