Below the Edge of Darkness: A Memoir of Exploring Light and Life in the Deep Sea

Edith Widder. Random House, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-5255-0924-0
Marine biologist Widder illuminates life in the dark depths of the ocean in her fascinating debut. After a blood disorder caused her to temporarily lose her eyesight at age 18 while studying marine biology, she became obsessed with how some marine animals produce light to navigate the darkness. Once she graduated college, she landed a research position studying bioluminescence in marine life 800 feet beneath the sea’s surface. Using a small submersible called Deep Rover, she dove into the ocean’s darkness to answer the question, “How much occurs when we’re not down there stirring things up?” Along the way, Widder exuberantly describes the “quadrillions” of fish who depend on bioluminescence to survive in the depths of the open ocean, such as the bristlemouth, whose “light organs adorning its belly... allow it to hide in a place with no hiding places.” Though the ocean is teeming with life, she points out that due to “chronic underfunding,” less than 0.05% of the deep ocean has been traversed: “We’ve never had anything akin to... NASA for the ocean,” she laments. This informs and electrifies in equal measure. Agent: Farley Chase, Chase Literary. (July)
Reviewed on : 05/03/2021
Release date: 07/27/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-525-50925-7
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