Through her podcast, On Being, Dr. Sylvia Earle lit up my world - with her description of descending into the deep ocean. I listened with intention and jotted down note after note about what she saw and experienced.
She spoke about inner space and Earth’s waters as life support systems. She explained that there is no green without blue – that life does not exist without the oxygen the ocean makes. (I hadn’t known that it wasn’t the trees on land that produced all the oxygen; in fact they only make a small percentage of it.) She said that it’s a miracle we exist, advised us to respect where we come from and where we are going and ultimately, to leave places better than we found them.
Dr. Earle grew up in New Jersey and later moved to the Florida coast. It was in NJ that she could wander around aimlessly as a child and observe nature – she marveled at it. In Florida, she continued to explore and later became a world-renowned scientist.
Dr. Earle is known as ‘Her Deepness.’ I adore her way of looking at life. She explores like a child, is soft spoken and is in love with the ocean. At times she had a bumpy ride - as a woman working in a male-dominated industry. She is a feminist but does not define herself as one.
When she descended down the deep ocean, she was with light. There is a twilight zone - with light like the earliest dawn. You can see shapes and fish. At 600 feet deep, it’s starlit. At 1000 to 1250 ft, some light still penetrates and you can see shapes. At the deepest point of her exploration, she turned off her equipment’s lights completely. There? Bioluminescent light! Firefly light, eels wrapped around coral, corals with blue fire and spiraling bamboo coral, crabs ‘like shirts on a line’ that are fluorescent pink, orange, yellow - ‘like a flower garden!’
She walked for 2 ½ hours on the ocean floor and described it like walking on the moon.
Throughout history there has been a fascination with exploring outer space but inner space is less explored - yet it keeps us alive, literally. This rings true for me on several levels. Through my daily meditation practice over the last 20 years, I have reflected on my own inner world. And like a journey into the deep sea, this practice is likewise an exploration - into the beauty that lives within. You just have to descend into that space and experience what it reveals.
I deeply admire Dr. Earle, not only for her work but for how she’s helped me become more aware of what is happening to our most precious resource. She is the inspiration for my collection, “The Deep.”
I hope you are compelled to learn more about her work and ways you can contribute to helping in your own unique way. To learn more about Dr. Earl’s work, please follow her organization, Mission Blue on Instagram.