PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL — Dr. Sylvia Earle joined a gathering of environmental enthusiasts at PGA National Resort & Spa on Friday afternoon to share her message of ocean preservation.
“I was swept off my feet by a wave when I was 3 and have been in love with the sea ever since,” Earle said. “Even as a child I was lured into the sea by the creatures that live there. Horseshoe crabs on the New Jersey beaches. Starfish and sea urchins in the Florida Keys. Everywhere strange and wonderful forms of life that occur only underwater. It was and is irresistible.”
A graduate of Florida State University, Earle has dived to 3,300 feet, led more than 100 expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater.
Earle was the keynote speaker at the Blue Friends Society’s Third Annual Go Blue Awards Luncheon celebrating leaders in ocean conservation. The Blue Friends Society is a support group of Loggerhead Marinelife Center that plans and promotes conservation efforts. Dr. Earle has pioneered research on marine ecosystems and shares a passion for the cause.
“We need the ocean,” she said. “The ocean delivers most of the oxygen in the atmosphere, holds the planet steady, has most of the water, most of the life. If we fail to take care of the ocean, it’s ourselves, not just turtles, that are at risk.”
Dr. Earle, named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress for her work in ocean conservation, spoke at length about the importance of understanding the ocean and how it impacts human survival.
“Our economy depends on maintaining the integrity of the ocean, as does our health, our security,” she said.
Her address followed an awards presentation in which five individuals and businesses were recognized for their efforts to improve and protect oceans, beaches and wildlife. Dr. Earle was selected as speaker because of her lifelong commitment to protecting the ocean, said Lynne Wells, chairman of the Go Blue luncheon. “Protection of the oceans is the most important part of keeping the world environment healthy,” Wells said.
Winners are: Blue Ambassador of the Year – Joe Zavertnik, Loggerhead Marinelife Center volunteer; Blue Friend of the Year (local) – Steven Allen, Palm Beach Maritime Academy teacher and department instructional leader; Blue Friend of the Year (national) – Susan J. Murray, Oceana Pacific Program senior director; Blue Business of the Year – Rapid Removal; Eleanor Fletcher Lifetime Achievement Award – Shark Activist Jim Abernethy, Jim Abernethy’s SCUBA Adventures and founder of Ocean Education Publishing.