For 2016 Blue Ocean Summit speaker Liz Taylor, it’s probably no surprise she found her way into a career dedicated to ocean exploration and conservation. With a mom like Dr. Sylvia Earle, Liz undoubtedly knew more about the intricacies of the Florida coastline than most children her age.
However, as Liz reflects on her upbringing today, she highlights how drastically her ocean playground has changed and how her childhood was actually a real witness story to climate change.
“There were no dull moments growing up,” Liz told Summit host, Laurie Wilson. “I have great memories, but we need to find ways to communicate science stories.”
Liz’s love of ocean exploration only grew stronger as she got older, but her frustration with the limits of diving eventually drew her to another avenue of exploring the sea and its inhabitants: submarines.
As president of DOER Marine, Liz and her team are building some of the world’s most advanced submarines and underwater remotely operated vehicles. The equipment her company designs has been used by the U.S. Navy and in search efforts for the missing MH-370 airliner. Her reputation is stellar, and she’s been invited to participate in instrumental councils like the Deepwater Horizon Study Group to ensure the world is better prepared to respond to manmade disasters like an oil spill.
With the damage humans inflict on the ocean near its breaking point, Liz recognizes the role submarines and ROVs must play in communicating science in a compelling way to people around the world.
“It’s [the ocean] out of sight, out of mind,” Liz said. “We need public awareness and people to see what’s at risk. It’s our life support system.”
Citing the ongoing mining controversy in Australia, where the country’s largest coal mine will possibly be built near the Great Barrier Reef, Liz argues that we aren’t looking at the ocean as a whole ecosystem.
To address this disconnect, Liz has made it DOER Marine’s mission to make a difference by using its technology to educate the public on the benefits an intact ecosystem brings.
Mission Blue II Ted
Recently, Dr. Earle and Liz participated on the Mission Blue II TED at sea expedition 42 are leasing the Solomon’s exclusive to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The pair longed to have submersibles so that they could show people first-hand what was at risk of being lost forever. Interestingly, for a society that’s very livelihood is dependent on the ocean, most citizens don’t swim and don’t understand the economic value of the country’s underwater world.
“These mining leases are being sold off with little regard for what the environmental impacts will be,” said Liz.
At the end of their voyage, Cyrill Gutsch, from Parley for the Oceans, stood up and pledged to fund the build of two submersibles. In the fall of 2016, Parley launched their Deep Space program.
Back home in San Francisco, DOER Marine routinely opens up its doors to the local community and spends a great deal of time fostering the limitless imagination of area children. From the Bay Area Science Festival, to Fish-hack-a-thons, to Girls Geek Camps, DOER is heavily involved in educating youths and ensuring they understand their symbiotic connection with the ocean.
Stemming from these outreach programs, Liz has been able to work with kids to develop solutions to real-world problems. One of the groups she worked with created a video game that addressed the ghost fishing net issue.
For those not local to DOER’s headquarters, or for people who live far from the coast, Liz has made accessing the ocean as easy as the click of the mouse. Through a partnership with Google, DOER’s submarines have brought the world’s “Hope Spots” to computer screens as part of its Streetview platform.
Just like the stars spark curiosity and a desire to explore space for many people, Liz hopes sharing what’s below the surface will evoke a similar passion to learn more about the ocean and encourage conservation.
“Give people tools and information so they can make the decision they need,” Liz said.
Liz and the team at DOER Marine are living proof that a for-profit business has the power to make a difference and improve the world for everyone’s benefit.
By Lauryn Dempsey, Blue Ocean Network
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