Cover With the support of Rolex and its Perpetual Planet initiative, Sylvia Earle is determined to protect our oceans with her Mission Blue initiative (Photo: courtesy of Rolex/ Kip Evans)

With the support of Rolex and its Perpetual Planet initiative, Sylvia Earle is determined to protect our oceans with her Mission Blue initiative

In September 1979, oceanographer Sylvia Earle was strapped to the front of a small submarine and dropped into the Pacific Ocean off the Hawaiian island of Oahu. When she reached the seabed and unfastened herself, Earle was 381 metres beneath the surface, setting the world record for the deepest untethered dive.

The marine biologist and explorer has worked tirelessly to bring attention to the crisis in our oceans. She’s been a Rolex testimonee since 1982, and her most ambitious project, Mission Blue, is supported by the watchmaker as part of its Perpetual Planet initiative, which was launched in 2019 to help redefine our relationship with the blue planet by finding solutions to Earth’s environmental challenges.

The word “perpetual” holds a special place in the vocabulary of Rolex. For nearly a century, it’s been inscribed on every Oyster watch built at the company’s manufacture in Switzerland. Used to describe something that never ends, the “perpetual” philosophy has come to reinforce the watchmaker’s conservation efforts. Since the 1930s, brand founder Hans Wilsdorf has supported intrepid explorers, mountaineers and scientists as well as their quests to the toughest places on Earth. 

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise, also part of the brand's Perpetual Planet initiative, supports exceptional individuals to implement projects that enhance our knowledge of the world, improve human wellbeing, and help protect the environment. The brand is also collaborating with the National Geographic Society to carry out a number of expeditions that will increase our knowledge of the impact of climate change on some of the world's most important ecosystems. 

In addition, Rolex continues to expand the portfolio of partnerships under the Perpetual Planet initiative. These include: the Under The Pole expeditions, which push the boundaries of underwater exploration; the B.I.G expedition to the North Pole in 2023, which will gather data on threats to the Arctic; and the Monaco Blue Initiative, which brings together experts to develop solutions for ocean conservation.

Not everyone can do everything, but everyone can do something to make a difference
Sylvia Earle

Earle’s Mission Blue, meanwhile, aims to safeguard the oceans through designated areas called Hope Spots, ecologically vulnerable areas of the ocean that are vital to the preservation of species and in need of protection. Mission Blue has been receiving support from Rolex since 2014 and has since increased the number of Hope Spots around the world from 50 to more than 140. Only around eight per cent of the oceans are currently protected, and it is Earle’s goal to help protect 30 per cent of the oceans by 2030, which is the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s recommended target for safeguarding ocean health.

“No species has changed the oceans more than humans,” Earle explains. “We change the nature of nature, take fish from the oceans on an industrial scale, and leave them awash with plastics. It is getting better, but it’s also getting more urgent because we’re now seeing potentially irreversible changes. That means the extinction of species. It means that you have passed a point of no return.”

 

“Since I began exploring the oceans in the 1950s, I have been driven by a sense of urgency about what I can do as a scientist and as a human being to join with other human beings to say I can do this or that to make a difference... to go from consuming the natural world to saying enough already,” says Earle. “There is plenty of reason for hope. It starts with people understanding that we have impacts on the ocean and knowing why it matters.

“Like Rolex, I feel that the time has come to make a stand for a perpetual planet so that the marvels of the ocean in all its teeming diversity are not lost to future generations. Everyone can do something. Not everyone can do everything, but everyone can do something to make a difference.”

Under the Same Sky
Though we often feel worlds apart, the truth is that today, more than ever, people are as connected as ever. Local is the new global, and the only way to make an impact on a global scale is to first engage on the home front. Under The Same Sky is a collection of stories that demonstrates this undeniable interconnectivity and the shared passions and actions that unite us. In partnership with Rolex, through its Perpetual Planet initiative, we bring together key advocates from the region and individuals from around the world who are crafting solutions to environmental challenges and committing to a sustainable future.

Learn more about the Rolex Perpetual Planet initiative here.

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