Sylvia Earle is TreeHugger's Person of the Year

sylvia earle diving photo

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

When TreeHugger compiled a short list of contenders for the title of "Person of the Year" in 2010, we knew it would be difficult to choose a single winner. Everyone on the shortlist, we agreed, deserved some recognition.

In the end, however, it became clear that if a Person of the Year was going to be named, he or she would be honored not only for a history of contributions to environmentalism but also for significant and specific accomplishments in 2010. This person, whose strong legacy was punctuated by recent notable achievements, is none other than "Her Deepness," Sylvia Earle.(Find out who our readers selected as the TreeHugger Reader's Choice Person of the Year.)

Earle's accomplishments range from diving records— she led the first team of female aquanauts, set a human depth record of 1250 feet in a JIM suit, and holds the women's record of 3,280 feet for a solo dive in a deep submersible—to ocean engineering innovations, scientific discoveries to administrative leadership.

Between 1990 and 1992 she served as Chief Scientist to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and since 1985 has worked to design and build unique equipment enabling deep-water exploration.

Over the course of her career, she has spent more than 7,000 hours underwater, conducting research on the United States National Marine Sanctuary and the impact of oil spills, among other things.

In 2009, Sylvia Earle won the TED Prize and made a wish: That TED "would use all means at your ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet."

This year, she had the opportunity to see this dream become a reality with the launch of Mission Blue—and, with oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico for half of the year, her vision and skills were never needed more.

Read more about Sylvia Earle:
Sylvia Earle on the Gulf Disaster and Saving the Seas (Podcast)
TED 2010: Sylvia Earle Gets Her Wish - Mission Blue Launches To Create Marine Preserves
Save the Oceans, Save Ourselves! Sylvia Earle's Top 3 Actions to Take on World Oceans Day
The Results are in:
TreeHugger's Person of the Year: The Reader's Choice
TreeHugger's Person of the Year: The Shortlist