Tierney Thys is a marine biologist and National Geographic emerging explorer. She has loved the ocean ever since the first time she went in the waves as a little girl, shortly after she learned to walk. Thys travels the world to study the giant sunfish, or mola.
WHAT SHE DOES
Marine biologist and filmmaker
WHAT SHE WAS LIKE AS A KID
As a youngster I always loved being outside, being with animals, and taking on new challenges.
I have tons! My heroes include everyone, old and young, who is taking time out of his or her busy day to stop and think about how vital the ocean is to life on this planet. Calling all you heroes out there—all hands on deck!
HOW SHE GOT INTO HER FIELD OF WORK
Many people have supported my powerful interest in the ocean. My parents always encouraged my love of biology and the natural world. After college, I met and worked with my dear friend Sylvia Earle, who continues to inspire me to help the ocean. I met the amazing ichthyologist Genie Clark during graduate school and her friendship and love of fish proved a powerful influence as well.
WHAT A TYPICAL DAY IS LIKE
If it's field season, I'm underwater most of the day. I travel for speaking engagements a fair bit. If I'm not traveling, I'm at home on my computer writing up manuscripts, writing grants, analyzing data, and working on ten projects at the same time.
WHAT SHE DOES FOR FUN
I play with my kids, hug our dog and cat, swim in open water, run on trails, and spend as much time outside as possible, listening to the wind, waves, and workings of the natural world.
What did the sunfish say when the biologist asked why she looked so funny? “I thought I should quit while I was a head!”
WHAT SHE DAYDREAMS ABOUT
In addition to breathing underwater, I daydream about a world where at least 30% of the ocean is protected.
FAVORITE PLACES SHE HAS TRAVELED
Raja Ampat in Papua New Guinea, Cocos Islands in Ecuador, the Great Astrolab Reef in Fiji, Isabella Island in the Galápagos, and Antarctica.
Never turn your back on the ocean.
THE ONE THING SHE CAN’T TRAVEL WITHOUT
A positive attitude!
MOST HEART-POUNDING EXPERIENCE
Getting attacked by an immensely aggressive daddy damselfish that showed me just who was boss when I got a bit too close to his precious little eggs. Go, daddy damselfish!