The Big Idea

The Centennial of the National Park Service in 2016 provides an historic opportunity to launch a decadal effort to bring America’s “best idea” to where it is most urgently needed now — our ocean.

“No water, no life. No blue, no green.”

The Team

 Dr. Sylvia Earle

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Oceanographer, conservationist, and founder of the Mission Blue Alliance. Earle has led more than a hundred expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater, including leading the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite Project in 1970; participating in ten saturation dives, most recently in July 2012; and setting a record for solo diving in 1,000-meter depth. Her research concerns marine ecosystems with special reference to exploration, conservation, and the development and use of new technologies for access and effective operations in the deep sea and other remote environments.

Her special focus is on developing a global network of areas on the land and in the ocean to safeguard the living systems that provide the underpinnings of global processes, from maintaining biodiversity and yielding basic life support services to providing stability and resiliency in response to  accelerating climate change.


Brian Skerry

An award-winning photographer, Skerry is praised worldwide for his aesthetic sense, as well as for his journalistic drive for relevance. His uniquely creative images tell stories that not only celebrate the mystery and beauty of the sea but also help to bring attention to the large number of issues that endanger our ocean and its inhabitants.

His nearly year-round assignment schedule frequently brings him to extremely contrasting environments, from tropical coral reefs to polar ice. While on assignment, he has lived on the bottom of the sea, spent months aboard fishing boats, and traveled in everything from snowmobiles to canoes to the Goodyear Blimp to get the picture. He has spent more than 10,000 hours underwater over the past 30 years.

Skerry has covered a wide range of stories for National Geographic, from the harp seal's struggle to survive in frozen waters to the alarming decrease in the world's fisheries, both of which were cover stories. Other features have focused on subjects such as the planet's last remaining pristine coral reefs, the plight of the right whale, bluefin tuna, marine reserves, sea turtles, and squid.


Maxwell Kennedy

Historian, Author, and Captain, Kennedy has a strong love for the sea that comes through his family. Being the Captain of a sailboat, Glide, Kennedy enjoys sailing around the east coast especially when he is able to show kids the ropes.


Finn Kennedy

Finn is a liberal arts student at Brown University. He is a certified diver with over 12 years of experience.


Rob Edwards

Rob is a student and activist from South East Washington, DC. He is part of MPD / Earth Conservation Corps. Partnership, Youth Creating Change (YCC). He has helped his community by building playgrounds, community areas and cleaning up the Anacostia River. He hopes to one day be Mayor of DC.

Ashley Dawkins

Ashley is a student and activist from South East Washington, DC. She is part of MPD / Earth Conservation Corps. Partnership, Youth Creating Change (YCC).  She was nominated to take part in the Blue Centennial Expedition. She had never seen the Ocean before her journey to St. Croix.


Bobby Nixon

Bobby Nixon is a student at Harvard University. He has been a certified diver since the age of 10. He is an active environmentalist, sportsman, falconer, and has assisted Dr. Sylvia Earle during the making of Mission Blue.


Jack Nixon

Jack is a 10th grader at Field School in Washington, DC. At the age of 9 he founded the American Heroes Saltwater Challenge, which enables wounded and active duty military to fish in the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish derby.


Quinn “Cruiser Keefe”

Quinn is a 10th grader from Steamboat Springs, CO. He is an active fisherman, hunter and skier. He was the youngest person, at the age of 13, to photograph Cashes Ledge in the Gulf of Maine.


Maggie Nixon

Maggie is a 2015 graduate of the Field School in Washington, DC. She has a special affinity with white sharks. She has both dived and filmed them in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. She wants to inform people that they are not savage beasts, but smart, thoughtful creatures.


Dr. Richard Pyle

Scuba diver and ichthyologist working in Hawaii at the Bishop Museum. Famous for his use of re-breathers, Pyle dives to the twilight zone between 300 - 500ft. During his dives he will normally find 4-5 new species per hour of exploration.


Owen Pyle

Owen attends Le Jardin Academy high school in Kailua.  He has been actively involved with the “Wild Kids” hiking group for many years, where he currently serves as a junior counselor helping to educate younger students about the importance of protecting the natural environment both in Hawaii, and during extended summer camping excursions in Montana.


Taylor Griffith

Taylor is one of Dr. Sylvia Earle’s grandsons. He is an active environmentalist and photographer with his photographs being featured in National Geographic.


Morgan Griffith

Morgan is a high school student near Oakland, CA. He hopes to one day be a biologist like his grandmother, Dr. Sylvia Earle. He dived with the Pices IV crew off the coast of Oahu, HI where he recorded, for the first time, coral bioluminescence.


Ka’imi Keamoai

Ka’imi is a student at the University of Hawaii where she is studying Political Science and Hawaiian Studies. Her ancestors are from the “forbidden island” of Ni’ihau.


Lily Jenkins

Lily is a young leader in environmental research from Molokai, HI and a strong advocate for sustainability and conservation intending to major in Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science and Geospatial Analysis in college.


Sarah Jenkins

Sarah is a young leader in environmental research and stakeholder engagement from Molokai, HI, and a strong advocate for sustainability, conservation, and the perpetuation of cultural heritage. She is studying Environmental Science and Policy as well as Earth and Ocean Science at Duke University.