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Oceanographer to speak in Carbondale Sunday

Kip Evans photo courtesy nationalgeographic.com
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CARBONDALE, Colorado – Noted oceanographer and author Dr. Sylvia Earle continues the Roaring Fork Cultural Council speaker series, appearing at the Thunder River Theatre in Carbondale at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Dr. Earle is currently Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society and was formerly chief scientist at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

She has led more than 70 marine expeditions, logging more than 6,500 hours under water. Her explorations have included an untethered walk on the sea floor at a depth lower than any other person.



Dr. Earle is the 2009 TED Prize recipient for her proposal to establish a global network of marine protected areas.

Recently, her research has contributed to the global “Census of Marine Life” project which aims to catalogue the yet undiscovered species of the oceans. Speaking on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” last year, Earle explained that most of the diversity of life on the planet resides in the seas.



“Diversity of life is one of the keys to maintaining stability,” she said, “and is something we should be very concerned with … Figuring out how to protect it is very much in our best interest.”

When she was 13, Earle’s family moved from their small farm outside Camden, N.J. to Clearwater, Fla., on the Gulf of Mexico, according to a biography of her life and work on the Academy of Achievement website [www.achievement.org].

“Soon, Sylvia was learning all she could about the wildlife of the Gulf and its coast … Throughout her school years, she supported herself by working in college laboratories.

“Here, she first learned scuba diving, determined to use this new technology to study marine life at first hand. Fascinated by all aspects of the ocean and marine life, Sylvia decided to specialize in botany.”

She went on to earn a master’s and Ph.D. degree from Duke University in the 1960s, earning recognition in the oceanographic community with her dissertation “Phaeophyta of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.”

“Since then,” according to the biography, “she has made a lifelong project of cataloguing every species of plant that can be found in the Gulf of Mexico.”

In 1979, Earle walked untethered on the sea floor at a depth of 1,250 feet below the ocean’s surface off of the island of Oahu. At the bottom, she detached from her transport vessel and explored the depths for two-and-a-half hours with only a communication line connecting her to the submersible. She described her adventure in the 1980 book, “Exploring the Deep Frontier.”

Earle is the author of numerous books on the ocean, including “Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans,” and more recently, “Ocean: An Illustrated Atlas” with co-author Linda K. Glover.

Earle’s visit is the fourth in a series of events organized by the Roaring Fork Cultural Council and co-sponsored by Colorado Mountain College. The series began earlier this year, bringing nationally and internationally known figures to the Roaring Fork Valley to speak on cultural, political and ecological issues in their areas of expertise.

Tickets for Sunday’s event are $10, and seating is limited. For more information and ticket information, visit http://www.rfculturalcouncil.org.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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