(November 10, 2016) --

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle took time this week to support the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and meet with students, faculty and staff.

On Tuesday afternoon, Earle captivated the audience at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Foundations annual Marine Environmental Awards Luncheon at the Battle House. Earle spoke of breaking barriers for women in marine science, restoring our natural resources, and protecting our oceans.

"The thing that gives me the most cause for hope, I think, is that now we know," Earle said. "It's not over for the Gulf, if we can just find the will to protect the area."

Earle's advice to young scientists to just go do it, mirrors her career. Earle led the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite Project in 1970, she's logged more than 7,000 hours underwater and set the record for solo diving in July 2012 at 1,000 feet.

Spending so much time below the surface of the water has changed Earle's perspective, and she feels an urgency to share her view.

"It's understanding, exploring, getting to see how everything connects that we could not do until very recent times," Earle shared before her luncheon speech. "I think those of us alive right now, kids very much included, are the luckiest people ever to arrive on earth, because now we know. We know how the world works as never before, and as never again we have a chance to stabilize some of the things that we're now doing that are unraveling the cornerstones of what keeps us alive. We know what to do and protecting nature is the key."

Earle spent time Wednesday morning on the Dauphin Island Sea Lab campus. During the graduate student meet and greet, Earle stood center and listened diligently to the students share details of their work.

"It's amazing to actually be able to pick her brain and ask her questions about her career as a y ougn scientist and even now doing what she loves," Whitney Scheffel, the project manager for ACER, said. "All of us share the same passion and it's interesting to be able to ask her questions about giving advice to us for the future of our careers."

Earle also had the chance to door the facilities at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab with University Programs' Chair Dr. Ken Heck and Executive Director John Valentine.

"I don't know of any place quite like it," Earle said. "The ocean is right there as the laboratory that draws people in, but under circumstances where everybody can learn together. There's a lot of give and take. Scientists learn from the people who come here. And certainly the people who come here learn from the scientists, and all of us learn from this amazing Gulf of Mexico."

Earle looks forward to making a trip back to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.