Studying the Spectacular Lights of Bioluminescence in the Deep Ocean


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Marine scientist and deep-sea explorer Edith (Edie) Widder sometimes can't believe the beautiful, natural rewards of her job. Deep beneath the surface of the ocean in her submersible vehicle where the marine world is dark, quiet and peaceful, often all she has to do is sit back and be treated to a spectacular undersea light show: courtesy of the teeming sea life outside her window.

In her work, Edie studies bioluminescence, or living light.  To answer questions about how creatures in the ocean make and use light she develops special instruments that can measure and record the light, and new camera systems to allow scientists unobtrusive observation of deep-sea environments.  

"I can remember the first deep ocean dive I made in the single-person submersible named the Wasp," says Edie.  When I turned out the lights and saw all the bioluminescence that seemed to be everywhere I looked, I was hooked.  The experience changed the course of my career. " 

Edie's' work also combines her expertise in research and technological innovation with a commitment to stopping and reversing the degradation of our marine environment.
She is CEO, President and Senior Scientist of the Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA) based in Ft. Pierce, Florida, an organization she co-founded in 2005 to protect aquatic ecosystems and the species they sustain through the development of innovative technologies and science-based conservation action.

Read more about Dr. Edith Widder and more Nifty Fifty Nominees here.

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That video is very eye opening. It makes you realize how much we donât know about our own planet. Iâve always known that there are fish deep down that have a light system to navigate, but I never realized there were so many and there were different ways to have this light. When it first came out, I watched the âPlanet Earthâ series. I was fascinated by the deep sea episode because of all the fish they caught on film. I was also very impressed with the fish that found on this exploration. I think itâs amazing that thereâs a fish that can shoot out a form of light. To me thatâs beyond my understanding. I think this can open up a whole new world of deep sea exploration and studies. Either way, itâs cool to know that there are some pretty amazing creatures down there that we never knew about before.