Among the more than 100 national and international honors she has received is the 2009 TED Prize for her proposal to establish a global network of marine protected areas. She calls these marine preserves “hope spots…to save and restore… the blue heart of the planet.”
Her accomplishments have made her a living legend. In 1970, she led Tektite II, Mission 6, a research project sponsored jointly by the U.S. Navy, the Department of the Interior and NASA during which teams of scientists lived for weeks at a time in a habitat on the ocean floor 50 feet below the surface.
In 1979, she made an open-ocean JIM suit dive to 1,250 feet (381m), walking untethered on the ocean floor at a greater depth than any human had done before — or since. And she also holds the women’s record for a solo dive in a deep submersible (3,280 feet, 1,000m).
From 1990 to 1992, Sylvia served as chief scientist for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
In 1992, Sylvia founded Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (DOER) to further advance marine engineering which designs, builds and operates innovative equipment for the deep ocean and other challenging environments. To date, she has led more than 400 expeditions worldwide, logging more than 7,000 hours underwater.
Sylvia has participated in numerous television productions and given scientific, technical, and general interest lectures in more than 60 countries. She is also the author of more than 125 publications concerning marine science and technology including the books Exploring the Deep Frontier, Sea Change (1995), Wild Ocean: America’s Parks Under the Sea (1999) and The Atlas of the Ocean (2001). Children’s books that she has written include Coral Reefs, Hello Fish, Sea Critters, and Dive!