Words matter. These are the best Edith Widder Quotes, and they’re great for sharing with your friends.
The one thing I’ve learned exploring the deep is that you just can’t even begin to imagine some of the bizarre creatures that are down there.
This is part of what’s driving me, is this feeling like there’s so much yet to be discovered in the oceans, and we’re destroying it before we even know what’s in it.
We’ve only explored about 5% of our ocean. There are great discoveries yet to be made down there – fantastic creatures representing millions of years of evolution and possibly bioactive compounds that could benefit us in ways we can’t even imagine.
When caught in the clutches of a predator, the jelly produces a light display that is a pinwheel of light that is basically a call for help. It serves to attract the attention of a larger predator that may attack their attacker, thereby affording them an opportunity for escape.
One of the things that’s frustrated me as a deep-sea explorer is how many animals there probably are in the ocean that we know nothing about because of the way we explore the ocean.
Giant squid aren’t rare. Based on the number of beaks that have been found in the stomachs of sperm whales, it’s thought that there are actually millions of them in the ocean, and yet, we haven’t seen them.
If I go out in the open ocean environment, virtually anywhere in the world, and I drag a net from 3,000 feet to the surface, most of the animals – in fact, in many places, 80 to 90 percent of the animals that I bring up in that net – make light. This makes for some pretty spectacular light shows.
We need a NASA-like organization for ocean exploration, because we need to be exploring and protecting our life support systems here on Earth.
It is clear that if we are going to understand ocean ecosystems, we need to understand the part that bioluminescence plays in those ecosystems.
The giant squid has the biggest eyes of any animal on the planet. It’s a visual predator.
That’s a real problem when people bring exotics into their homes. Sometimes it’s by accident, but sometimes it’s on purpose.
Finding animals that make light in the ocean is easy. Just drag a net through the water anywhere in the upper 3000 feet, and as many as 80-90% of the animals you catch can make light. The biomimetic lure that I developed imitates one of these – a common deep sea jellyfish called Atolla.
Squid don’t eat jellyfish, but they eat the things that eat the jellyfish. Jellyfishes put on a lightshow to attract a larger predator. It’s caught in the clutches of something like a fish and has no hope for escape unless its lightshow attracts something bigger that will attack their attacker.
I developed my camera system, called the Medusa, jointly with a colleague down in Australia as a method of exploring the ocean unobtrusively. The critical thing was that we didn’t use white light, which I believe has been scaring the animals away.
I loved anything to do with animals from a very early age.
I never, ever would have imagined the kind of career I’ve had. It just wouldn’t have occurred to me that anything like this could have been possible. I didn’t have any such aspirations. And I still can’t believe my good fortune.
Exploration is the engine that drives innovation. Innovation drives economic growth. So let’s all go exploring.
Squid experts have been debating for some time about whether the giant squid is a passive predator that just floats around in the water and waits to bump into something. I was never one to imagine it to be passive.
I have made hundreds of dives in submersibles, with each dive holding the promise of seeing an organism or a behavior that no one has ever seen before. But I have always wondered about the animals and behaviors that we’re not seeing because our bright lights and loud thrusters scare them away.
For my Ph.D. thesis, I was measuring the electrical activity that triggers light emission from a bioluminescent dinoflagellate. As I was nearing the completion of my degree, my major professor wrote a grant for an instrument for measuring the color of very dim light flashes from bioluminescent animals.
We’ve only explored about five percent of our ocean. There are great discoveries yet to be made down there, fantastic creatures representing millions of years of evolution and possibly bioactive compounds that could benefit us in ways that we can’t even yet imagine.
I just was mesmerized by all of this life everywhere I looked. And so I wanted to be a marine biologist.