Below the Edge of Darkness

Exploring Light and Life in the Deep Sea


'A book of marvels, marvellously written' RICHARD DAWKINS

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 wonder, are the keys to the ocean's salvation and thus our future on this planet.

'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

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