The 25 Most Adventurous Women of the Past 25 Years

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Sylvia Earle
Maarten de Boer / Getty Images9/25

Sylvia Earle

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle first inspired the nickname "Her Deepness" in 1979, when she was cut loose from a submarine and walked the ocean floor, untethered, at 1,250 feet off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii, setting a woman's depth record. The name stuck and Earle has been the world's most prominent, informed, adventurous, and outspoken ocean advocate since.

Her list of accomplishments is bold, including leading more than a hundred expeditions and logging more than 7,000 hours underwater. She set the women's record for a world solo dive depth and tied the overall record in 1986, became the first female chief scientist at NOAA in 1990, and became a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence in 1998. Other honors include the 2011 Royal Geographical Society Gold Medal and 2009 TED Prize. Mission Blue, the award-winning film about her life, came out in 2014.

Impressively, Earle, now 81, has not slowed down one bit, making it her life’s work to transfer her love of the ocean to others with the hopes of saving it. She tirelessly travels the globe to inspire audiences to care about our oceans and life on this planet, making her, indisputably, the world's preeminent protector of the seas.

"Don’t let others discourage you from doing something you really care about," she advised in a recent Men's Journal interview. For Earle, this means continuing to dive and explore. When asked to name her favorite place, she answered, “the next place, wherever it is."

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