State of the Oceans with Sylvia Earle

Relive the exclusive event that saw legendary oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle share her stories and her hopes for the future of the world's oceans.

Relive the highlights and enjoy the fascinating insights of legendary oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle with this audio recording from our exclusive State of our Oceans talk held in August 2019.

Listen to Sylvia Earle's observations about what is happening in the big blue and its future, with additional commentary by marine scientist Professor Emma Johnston AO and multi-award-winning international nature photographer Michael Aw. 

Main image Sylvia Earle by Michael Aw for Elysium Arctic



World-renowned oceanographer and explorer Dr. Sylvia Earle has spent her entire life studying and advocating for our world’s precious marine ecosystems. She set and holds the world record for the deepest dive in an untethered submersible, she was the first female chief scientist of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and she was named Time Magazine’s first “Hero for the Planet”. Fondly referred to as 'Her Deepness', she has led over 100 expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater. She has authored more than 200 publications and lectured in 90 countries. Dr. Earle is also the founder of Mission Blue, SEAlliance and Deep Ocean Exploration and Research. Her more than 100 honours include the 2013 National Geographic Hubbard Medal, 2009 TED Prize, Netherlands Order of the Golden Ark and medals from the Explorers Club, the Royal Geographical Society, and the Lindbergh Foundation. Earle is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and honorary chair of Ocean Geographic Board of Honorary Editors.


Professor Emma Johnston AO is Dean of Science and Professor of Marine Ecology and Ecotoxicology at UNSW Sydney. Emma investigates the ecological impacts of human activities in marine ecosystems. She combines the disciplines of ecology, ecotoxicology and invasion biology in a research program that expands our fundamental understanding of marine systems.  Her research is conducted in diverse field environments, from Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef and temperate Australian estuaries.

Her awards include the Royal Society of New South Wales Clark Medal in Zoology in 2018, the Australian Academy of Science’s inaugural Nancy Mill’s Medal for Women in Science 2014, and the 2015 Eureka Prize for the public communication of science. Last year she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (OA) for “distinguished service to higher education, particularly to marine ecology and ecotoxicology, as an academic, researcher and administrator, and to scientific institutes”.

Emma represents more than 70,000 scientists and technologists as President of Science & Technology Australia (STA) is a Director on the Board of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and Acting Chair of the Australian Antarctic Foundation (ASF).  She consults with industry through the development and implementation of new biomonitoring techniques and environmental monitoring programs and frequently contributes expert opinion to state, federal & international government agencies.  Emma is also a highly sought-after science communicator and television presenter for the ongoing BBC/Foxtel series, Coast Australia and ABC Catalyst.


Michael Aw

Michael Aw is a multi-award-winning wildlife photographer, explorer and conservationist. He has authored 36 books on ocean life, has won more than 66 international photographic awards and has been named one of the world’s most influential nature photographers by Outdoor Photography.

He has been published by BBC Wildlife, GEO, National Geographic, the Smithsonian, Nature, Ocean Geographic, Asian Geographic, Nature Focus, Times, and Discovery to name a few. Michael is recipient of four awards from the Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year Wildlife Competition in 2000, 2010, and in 2006 and 2015 he won the underwater photography category.

During 2010-2016 Michael was the project director for the Elysium Epic expedition to the Antarctic and Arctic with 66 team members comprising the world’s best image makers and scientists. In 2018 he led a team of 50 on an expedition across the heart of the Coral Triangle, for a first-ever baseline survey of the biomass of corals and fishes in the region.


This talk was part of the museum’s Science Week and Sydney Science Festival program and was made possible thanks to the Department of Industry, Innovation & Science.