A pioneering marine biologist takes us down into the deep ocean to understand bioluminescence, the language of light that helps life communicate in the darkness, and what it tells us about the future of life on Earth.
Edith Widder grew up determined to become a marine biologist. But after complications from a surgery during college caused her to go temporarily blind, she became fascinated by light as well as the power of optimism. Her focus turned to oceanic bioluminescence, a scientific frontier, and with little promise of funding or employment she took a leap into the dark.
Below the Edge of Darkness explores the depths of the planet's oceans as Widder seeks to understand one of the most important and widely used forms of communication in nature. In the process, she reveals hidden worlds and a dazzling menagerie of behaviours and animals, many never-before-seen or, like the legendary Giant Squid, never-before-filmed in its deep-sea lair. Alongside Widder, we experience life-and-death equipment malfunctions and witness breakthroughs in technology and understanding, all of it set against a growing awareness of the deteriorating health of our largest and least understood ecosystem.
This is an adventure story as well as a science story. But it's also about the sometimes complicated business of exploration. And ultimately, Widder shows us that exploration, and the corresponding senses of discovery and wonde
Edith Widder is an oceanographer, a marine biologist and the co-founder, CEO and senior scientist at the Ocean Research & Conservation Association, a non-profit organisation where she is focusing her passion for saving the ocean into developing innovative technologies needed to preserve and protect the ocean's most precious real estate – its estuaries. She has given three TED talks and been awarded a prestigious MacArthur 'Genius Grant' Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as well as the Explorer's Club Citation of Merit and is the first recipient of the Captain Don Walsh Award for Ocean Exploration established by the Marine Technology Society and the Society of Underwater Technology.
"To shed light on a subject is what any scientific book should do. To go into it in depth without losing the reader is a harder task. Edith Widder's subject is light itself – the manufacture of light by strange and eerie denizens of the deep sea – and her scintillating style is worthy of it. This is a book to delight the general reader while simultaneously informing the professional: a book of marvels, marvellously written"
– Richard Dawkins
"Edie's story is one of hardscrabble optimism, two-fisted exploration and groundbreaking research. As I've said many times, I'd have wrapped my submersible, the Deepsea Challenger, in bacon if it would have lured the elusive giant squid from the depths. In Below the Edge of Darkness, Edie tells you how she did it"
– James Cameron
"My experience of exploring the deep ocean and its alien life with Edie Widder was fabulous. She enthrals us with many such stories in her book. I recommend it"
– Ray Dalio
"Personal and page-turning, adventurous and awe-inspiring, Below the Edge of Darkness sparkles with the thrill of exploration and glows with an urgent plea for the future of our precious seas. Comparisons to Jacques Cousteau spring to mind, as Edith Widder shares the profound journey of her life – one as unique and important as the unexplored realms of our very own planet"
– Juli Berwald, Author of Spineless: the Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone
"Luminous – the topic, the heroic journey, and the author herself. Dive in with Edith Widder, trail-blazing scientist and explorer, as she reveals the galaxy of light and life in the universe below the surface of the sea, out-shining sceptical male colleagues with dignity, grace and a robust sense of humour"
– Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer in Residence; Founder, Mission Blue, Oceanographer