We all know that our oceans and marine life are being threatened by environmental issues. As ocean-loving individuals, there are small steps that we can take to do our bit. But not many of us will be able to have a huge impact, at least in terms of raising awareness.

Luckily, some of our top female divers are able to do just that. In this article, we take a look at a few of the women who have used their successes to become champions for the oceans.

Her Deepness – Sylvia Earle

One of the great female scuba diving pioneers of all time, Dr. Sylvia Earle is often referred to as Her Deepness. Dedicating her life to ocean awareness, she has become an influential conservationist and oceanographer. Writing over 150 publications and creating award-winning documentaries, Dr. Earle has received over 100 honors and awards.

Appointed in 1998 as National Geographic’s Explorer-in-Residence, Dr. Earle spearheaded the Sustainable Seas Expeditions to study US national marine sanctuaries. More recently, she launched Mission Blue, a non-profit organisation for exploring and protecting the Earth’s oceans.

Mission Blue aims to shed light on vital ecosystems to safeguard them, creating a worldwide network of marine protected areas.

Sylvia Earle is a true diving legend, raising ocean awareness throughout the world.

Shark Girl – Jillian Morris

In 2016, Scuba Diving Magazine honoured Jillian Morris as a scuba diving hero. A diving instructor, explorer and videographer, she has focused on shark conservation. Her photos and documentaries have been featured on global platforms from The Discovery Channel to National Geographic.

Jillian has spent thousands of hours working and diving with sharks throughout the world. She founded Sharks4Kids, an outreach program dedicated to educating young people on the importance of shark conservation. Through fun activities, Sharks4Kids encourages teachers to integrate shark education into their science programs.

As the author of the children’s book “Norman the Nurse Shark”, Jillian Morris has truly earned the name Shark Girl.

Young Ocean Explorers – Riley Hathaway

In 2013, at just 12 years old, Riley Hathaway took part in a school project focused on turtles and plastic. It had a huge impact on the young girl, leading her down a path of ocean conservation. Working with her father Steve, an underwater videographer, the TV series Young Ocean Explorers was born.

The 20-episode series focuses on Riley’s adventures and encounters with turtles, whales and orcas. The show aims to inspire children around the globe to see the beauty and diversity of the Earth’s marine life.

In 2015, Riley became the youngest ever recipient of the Leo Ducker Award, recognising her contribution to the underwater environment. A true inspiration to all young divers.

Plastic Ocean Go-Getters – Tanya Streeter and Jo Ruxton

As a freediver, Tanya Streeter broke numerous records and became a world champion. After retiring, she began championing environmental awareness.

Jo Ruxton worked for the BBC on a number of underwater documentaries and was a producer on the Blue Planet programmes. In 2009, she co-founded Plastic Ocean Foundation UK, a non-profit organisation.

Together, the two women combined their talents in the film ‘A Plastic Ocean’ which explored the science and health impacts of discarded plastic. The hope was to create a shift in public behaviour concerning plastic and its threat to the world’s oceans.

With the changes in attitude that are being seen globally, they have definitely made an impact!

Shark Whisperer – Cristina Zenato

With a love of the outdoors Zenato has been a professional diver since 1994 and became a PADI course instructor in 2015. She has two combined loves for the underwater world– sharks and caves.

As a shark ambassador, Zenato has gained a reputation working in the wild with sharks developing a unique relationship with them. She has been involved in the efforts to change the public perception towards sharks and educate the public about shark conservation through talks and conferences in places around the world, especially in China and Singapore.

Named as ‘The Shark Whisperer, Zenato is also an active cave explorer based in the Bahamas. She surveys caves, and educates, and promotes their conservation globally. Alongside cave mapping, and exploration work, she was the first female diver who helped connect a fresh-water land cave with the ocean blue hole cave in the Bahamas in 2012.

I Am Water – Hanli Prinsloo

Not only a South African record-breaking freediver, Hanli Prinsloo is also a writer, speaker, and ocean conservationist. In 2010, she founded I Am Water, a conservation trust dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans through human experiences.

I Am Water helps people fall in love with the ocean and encourages us to reconnect with nature. The trust generates also funds to support outreach programmes for underprivileged children in coastal communities.

Because of these women and others like them, the plight of our oceans is given both a platform and an audience. Thanks, ladies!