DM Haight

A wild expanse, more serene and delicate than we can know, and more vast than we yet understand. Mission Blue, the documentary from Fisher Stevens, chronicles the life of world renowned oceanographer, Sylvia Earle, who looks forward to a future where the ocean is a preserved habitat.

With absolutely stunning photography from the early years of diving, leading up to some of the more breathtaking visuals of the deep sea we’ll watch unfold beyond serialized documentaries, Mission Blue is a look into the past, showing us a porthole into the projected future of marine life, and humanity. Sylvia takes us down into the deep blue to show us the diversity of its creatures and the damages we’ve inflicted.

Other than being a visual treat and informative work on the ways we have tarnished and over-fished the blue waters of the planet, Mission Blue also tells the story of how Sylvia has managed to leave her mark on the ocean floors through her determined research and continued efforts for more consistent and permanent conservation.

From a young age she was fascinated with the oceans. Who isn’t? But her curiosity rose to greater and greater heights. Before long, this story of an enthusiastic scientist manages to barely gloss over the fact that its female focal point was in a man’s world, doing “man’s work”. Sylvia, throughout the documentary, barely mentions that what she was doing—working on scientific explorations, becoming the best mind in oceanography with her discoveries, being the first this and that in her field—was bordering on taboo. Her gender is over-looked considerably; and for once I am truly thankful for it. Touching on, and not stamping to death, the fact that she was the one woman in seventy men aboard an exploration is a refreshing change for this particular kind of documentary. Just like the woman we come to know her as, she puts her personal struggles aside in order to perform the task of keeping her passion alive. It doesn’t matter that she’s a woman, and that in itself sets this documentary apart from so many other biographical works on early woman pioneers in the sciences.

Sylvia’s life is dedicated to the ocean. Three marriages later and she’s still looking for someone to keep up with her. It’s not every day you come across a story that has a persona like that of Earle’s at the center, and still manage to have that persona focus the story on their life’s work and passion. For Sylvia, the life she’s led has had very little to do with ambition. She’s in it for the excitement, a true explorer in every way. Be it developing submarine devices, or cataloguing different species of algae, we never get too far from the blue waves of the ocean.

If anything Mission Blue is a love story about a woman and her passion. It revolves around a life-long quest for discovery in a more alien world than we have yet seen, even in the stars. Sylvia’s telling portrait speaks to the ambitious and curious, and begs them to create and discover, and most of all protect the world they inhabit. Imploring us to consider the consequences of our actions and look at data, as she does, and deduce the wretched state we’ve put the often forgotten oceans in. If her words and personality can charm anyone else as much as it charmed me, then she may have the chance she needs to save the oceans she loves.

To help Sylvia, join the Mission at

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