Four decades later, the oceanographer and founder of Mission Blue--a TED initiative to inspire people of all stripes to put their respective skills toward ocean conservation--has logged over 6,000 hours underwater and completed more than 50 research expeditions worldwide. Along the way, Earle's had a few breathtaking encounters. Her one hour interview takes us from a brief run-in with a 40 foot long humpback whale to an uncanny encounter with a lobster in the Florida Keys. "I certainly have never eaten a lobster since then," Earle notes. Sharks are scary, she admits, but it would be scarier if there weren't any around for us to see. "You should be afraid if you go down and don’t see sharks. That means the ocean is in trouble, and if the ocean is in trouble we’re in trouble."
After spending most of her life satisfying a personal desire to explore the oceans, Earle feels obligated to call other people's attention to how desperately our oceans need to be protected. "I can’t indulge myself as much as I once did as a young explorer, as a younger scientist. I now am compelled to share the news."