Saving The Oceans, Orca Style

Underwater scientist Edie Widder is bringing 21st-century marine conservation to the Treasure Coast.
A former Coast Guard station along Seaway Drive by the Ft. Pierce Inlet is home to the Ocean Research & Conservation Association. A non-profit organization, ORCA employs engineers, scientists and graduate students led by underwater researcher Edie Widder. They are creating new conservation instruments and a unique approach to marine conservation and education.

It is no secret that ocean conservation–the preservation and protection of global marine ecosystems–is one of the most urgent issues facing modern science. Each week new facts emerge about growing threats to fisheries or the damage done by human activity to marine resources worldwide. Yet, nationally, marine conservation receives less than half of 1 percent of the charitable resources allocated for land-based conservation.

Now, due to the efforts of one well-known Treasure Coast scientist, that is about to change. Nestled into the former Coast Guard station on Seaway Drive in Fort Pierce is the newly created Duerr Laboratory for Marine Conservation. The lab is the home of ORCA, Ocean Research & Conservation Association, the brainchild and passion of Dr. Edie Widder.

The achievements of Dr. Widder, a biologist and underwater explorer, have made her a familiar face in Indian River and St. Lucie counties. Often pictured emerging from a submarine or returning from a diving trip, she is an authority on the chemical light produced by marine organisms known as bioluminescence. She also utilizes and creates new technology to reveal the secrets of life in the water. Her work has been featured on numerous television programs about the deep sea.

Read the entire article in the January 2008 issue