JU honors first person to capture video of a giant squid

Dr. Edith Widder was awarded JU's Marine Science Pioneer Award

By Allyson Henning - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Marine Science students at Jacksonville University were in for a treat this week.

They had a chance to meet world-renowned deep-sea explorer and inventor Dr. Edith Widder who was awarded Jacksonville University’s Marine Science Pioneer Award on Tuesday.

Dr. Widder is the founder of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association. She is also the first person to capture video of a giant squid in its natural habitat using equipment she invented.

“It’s an electronic jellyfish that imitates a certain type of deep sea jellyfish that is actually very common and has one of the most spectacular bio luminescent displays I have ever seen,” said Dr. Widder. “It creates this pinwheel of light that goes round and round. It’s clearly like a movie marquee, it is attracting attention. It seems to be very attractive to squid.”

Her latest and second sighting using her invention happened in June. It might come as a surprise, the creature was captured on camera 100 miles southeast of New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico, more than 2600 feet under water.

“It wasn’t an adult, it was a juvenile. It was about as tall as a two-story building,” said Dr. Widder. 

The giant squid is a massive creature. An adult giant squid can be as tall as a four-story building. It also has the largest eye in the entire animal kingdom; it’s about the size of a dinner plate. 

Dr. Widder hopes sharing her journey with students encourages them to become explorers. 

“There is so much down there that we don’t know about,” said Dr. Widder.

She believes researchers have explored less than .05% of the ocean floor.

“They are seeing things that I didn’t see in my career and I am excited for them. I cannot imagine where we will go in the future because I certainly had no idea we would be where we are today when I was an undergraduate,” said Dr. Quinton White with Jacksonville University.

The award is presented to an exemplary leader in marine science whose visionary leadership has served as an inspiration to others.

Past recipients include Robert Ballard, who discovered the wreckage of the Titanic, and OCEARCH Founder Chris Fischer.

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