Sylvia Earle’s ‘Mission Blue’ Arrives on Netflix Today

“60 years ago, when I began exploring the ocean, no one imagined that we could do anything to harm it,” says pioneering diver and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle.

How wrong we were. In the time since her career began, the over harvesting of whales, sharks, and once reliable staples of the human diet has disrupted the food chain with impacts for species at all levels. Fertilizers from agricultural runoff have fed massive blooms of algae that choke off other forms of life. Pollution in the form of diluted chemicals as well as microscopic pieces of plastic and large items wreak havoc for fish, mammals, and birds alike. Even immaterial activities can have a negative impact: the deafening sounds of industry and sonar can cause injury and impede communication among whales and dolphins.

Sylvia Earle watchs a squid in a time before our full impact on the ocean was clear. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Earle and Hope Spots Company Inc.)
Sylvia Earle watchs a squid in a time before our full impact on the ocean was clear. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Earle and Hope Spots Company Inc.)

The Origin of Mission Blue

The new documentary, “Mission Blue,” available starting today on Netflix, traces Sylvia’s life of wonder and exploration, and her dedication to awakening the world to the need to give the ocean time and space to recover. The film bears the same name as her ocean conservation alliance born out of the wish she made upon receiving the 2009 TED Prize:

“I wish that you would use all means at your disposal—films, expeditions, the web, new submarines—and campaign to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas—hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet. How much? Some say 10 percent, some say 30 percent. You decide: how much of your heart do you want to protect?”

Co-directed by Fisher Stevens (“The Cove”) and Robert Nixon (“Gorillas in the Mist”), the film, like Sylvia herself, doesn’t pull punches. It is hard hitting, but also inspiring. This is in keeping with her experience of the ocean itself, a vast and awesome location and community, at once fragile and powerful enough that while its immediate future is in our hands, our long-term future depends utterly on its continued health and functioning.

“No ocean, no life,” she says. “No ocean, no us.”

Students and teachers can dive deeper into the science and issues in the film through lesson plans and research materials from National Geographic Education.

See what the National Geographic Society is doing to help restore and protect ocean health through the creation of large marine protected areas in the Pristine Seas project.

Join the conversation with Sylvia herself on Twitter:

Learn More About Sylvia Earle and Her Work

Sylvia Earle Bio

Mission Blue on National Geographic Education

“Mission Blue” on Netflix


  1. Tiffany
    Parry Sound
    January 12, 2015, 1:45 pm

    Sylvia Earle! I know you’ve heard this a million times but you need to here it again from us all! You are an inspiration to the world to women to me! I never realized how much trouble we are truly in until last night watching Mission Blue. Thank you for all your dedication your work your caring spirit! I want to help the world in any way i can if theres anything i can do from this little town please let me know! I live in a small town in Ontario Canada and really want to help with the project! The veil has been revealed and I feel driven to something! We need this awareness and we need people everywhere to pitch in! Let me know if theres anything i can do! God Bless!

  2. Dale Mosher
    Central Florida
    August 21, 2014, 8:53 am

    I would like to volunteer for the reef mapping project, how do I get in touch with someone like Dr. Earle?

  3. Robert
    August 16, 2014, 7:32 pm

    Love you work and dedication.
    But till we get the population under controll it will only get worse.