ORCA Ocean Research and Conservation Association


Seagrass Die-Off One Of Major Issues Addressed At Indian River Lagoon Symposium
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — With seagrasses providing habitat for juvenile fish and food for manatees, last year's loss of 32,000 acres from the Indian River County's segment of the Indian River Lagoon is equivalent to losing a rain forest, marine biologist Edie Widder said Tuesday. Read More

A New Program Demonstrates That Comprehensive Monitoring Of Pollution Sources And Sinks Is Both Effective And Affordable
Down by the banks of the river Charles at the AAAS Annual Meeting last month, Edie Widder told a story about the recent loss of a rain forest's worth of seagrass meadows at Florida's Indian River Lagoon. Read More

Team ORCA Welcomes Ocean Rower Roz Savage
"The important thing here is to clean up the Indian River Lagoon," says Richard Rogers. Richard and his wife Annie volunteer together at ORCA (the Ocean Research & Conservation Association), a scientific-based conservation non-profit founded in 2005 by internationally recognized deep-sea explorer Dr. Edith Widder. Read More

Fort Pierce Marine Research Group's Kilroy Monitors Expanding Throughout Lagoon
People scream when they're in pain, gasp when their air supply is restricted or laugh when things are well. Do fish and other marine creatures' sounds change when stress from environmental conditions changes? Read More

Indian River Charter Students Partner With ORCA
Nine marine science students from Indian River Charter High School joined researchers with the Ocean Research & Conservation Association of Fort Pierce to study the reasons for diminishing plant and sea life in the Indian River Lagoon. Read More

Taking The Lead
One deep-water biologist's dream of saving the world's oceans by tracking pollution may just be the key to saving the St. Lucie and Indian River estuaries. Read More On Page 6

The Technology Behind Those Amazing Giant Squid Images
The first footage of the Giant Squid (Architeuthis dux) in its natural habitat was filmed by ORCA's deep sea camera, Medusa! Dr. Edie Widder was one of the three Scientists involved in the Discovery Channel expedition that captured the Giant Squid on film in its natural habitat for the first time in history. The electronic jellyfish (e-jelly) that she and ORCA engineers developed, attracted the Giant Squid and made it possible to get this special video footage. This e-jelly imitates certain bioluminescent displays, like that of deep-sea jellyfish. More on this story: CBS Evening News | CBS This Morning | CNN

Giant Squid Captured On Video In Its Natural Habitat For First Time
Discovery Channel and NHK have joined forces to undertake the most ambitious search ever mounted to find the greatest mystery of the deep, the giant squid. With razor-toothed suckers and eyes the size of dinner plates, tales of the creature have been around since ancient times. The Norse legend of the sea monster the Kraken and the Scylla from Greek mythology might have derived from the giant squid. This massive predator has always been shrouded in secrecy, and every attempt to capture a live giant squid on camera in its natural habitat, considered by many to be the Holy Grail of natural history filmmaking, has failed. Until now. Mankind finally confronts the creature of the deep as the first ever footage of the giant squid where it lives is revealed in Discovery Channel's MONSTER SQUID: THE GIANT IS REAL which premieres on January 27, 2013 at 8 PM ET/PT as the season finale of CURIOSITY. Press Release

Kids To Help Map Out Pollution In Lagoon
The bad news is many first-born baby dolphins in the lagoon are dying from toxins built up in their mothers' bodies while the County Commission refuses to pass a common-sense ordinance to reduce the worst source of pollution. The good news is Edie Widder and her colleagues at ORCA – the Ocean Research and Conservation Association – are gearing up to continue mapping pollution in the lagoon to make it more visible to policymakers and residents as a first step to reverse the estuary's downward ecological spiral. Read More

Impact 100 Grant Winners Announced In Indian River County
CASTLE, the Education Foundation of Indian River County, the Ocean Research & Conservation Association and Sebastian Charter Junior High School were selected Thursday as the winners of 2012 Impact 100 grants.The awards were made following the Impact 100 annual meeting that took place at the Richardson Center at Indian River State College in Vero Beach. Read More

Bringing Bioluminescence Into The Light
Bioluminescence, or cold chemical light made by living creatures, answers a simple question: how can an animal survive in the dark? Making its own light by which it can find food, attract mates or defend itself against predators is an easy fix. This phenomenon has evolved at least 40 times in evolutionary history—a clear indication of how important the trait is for various animals' survival. Read More

We Can All Have A Role In Reducing Pollution Entering The Lagoon
One of the great pleasures of living along the Indian River Lagoon is watching dolphins in groups of two or three gliding through the water, the sun glistening off their bodies as the slick backs of the gentle creatures break above the surface and down below in an elegant ballet. Few sights are as joyful or life-affirming in nature and in our extraordinary coastal environment. So, why are we killing the dolphins? We are, you know. Read More

Dr. Edie Widder Educates Vero Beach High School Ninth-Graders
On Jan. 24, Widder came to the Freshman Learning Center of Vero Beach High School and spoke with science classes about the dangers of pollution. Aligning with the third quarter curriculum for ninth grade physical science students, Widder was able to bring her decades of experience and knowledge to these students and provide fantastic insight to the consequences of pollution on marine organisms. Read More

The Troubled Lagoon: Half Of Dolphins Sick And Dying
Everybody loves bottlenose dolphins. They are an emblem of the beauty and grace of the natural world and seeing one in the Indian River Lagoon adds a bit of magic to the day. When a pod passes under the Barber Bridge, the sight stops walkers in their tracks and pulls casual strangers into a friendly group as they watch the animals – which one writer calls the most playful in the universe – breach and dive. Read More

Scott Guts Water Protection Funding, Endangering Lagoon
"Governor Scott just cut the budget of the South Florida Water Management District by 51 percent, which led to firing most of the scientists," Widder says. "When I started ORCA, I had a three-legged stool of funding from private, state and federal. Since then the state has stopped providing money and the federal money has been drying up for everybody. So we are down almost entirely to private support." Read More

ORCA Maps Pollution In Lagoon Between Vero Bridge Spans
A Fort Pierce-based environmental research group is shining light — bioluminescence, to be precise — on the problem of pollution in the Indian River Lagoon. Scientists at Ocean Research and Conservation Association, aka ORCA, have started with a pilot program to map pollution in a 1-square-mile area of the lagoon between the 17th Street Bridge and the Barber Bridge in Vero Beach, thanks to a grant from Impact 100 of Indian River County, a women's philanthropic organization. Read More

Lawmakers Fear More Pollutants May Be Released In Florida Waters
A group of community activists don't want local cities and counties to lose the power to control the sale of fertilizer to prevent pollution of their waterways. Dozens of people gathered near the Stuart Causeway bridge along the St. Lucie River to voice their opposition to House Bill 421. Read More

Goliath Grouper Mysteries Slowly Being Unraveled
Around the reefs of Jupiter and Hobe Sound, the fall months are special. For Goliath groupers, it's spawning season. Aggregations of large Goliaths — some estimated to be as large as eight feet in length and weighing more than 500 pounds — gather at artificial reefs and shipwrecks around Jupiter and the southern end of the Treasure Coast. For four years, volunteer divers and researchers have been working to unlock some of the mysteries of one of the area's largest resident fish. Read More

NY Times Education Blog: Bioluminescence Lesson Plan
What is bioluminescence, and what function does it play in living organisms? How have researchers harnessed bioluminescence in studies of toxicity and pollution? In this lesson, students explore deep-sea bioluminescence, learn how scientists use this property to identify contaminants in water and participate in a forum on water pollution. Read More

Vero Beach Council Approves Fertilizer Ordinance
City officials are hoping a new fertilizer ordinance will create a healthier Indian River Lagoon. The ordinance approved Tuesday requires training for commercial applicators, places restrictions on fertilizer use near the water and reinforces the city's prohibition against blowing grass clippings on the streets and sidewalks. Read More

NY Times Article: Illuminating the Perils of Pollution, Nature’s Way
Edith Widder presented a handful of greenish muck that had been pulled from the shallows of the Indian River Lagoon and cupped it in her palm.This fish produces red bioluminescence from light organs on the face and uses it like a sniper scope. "See that?" she asked. "That's a lot of decayed organic matter. It's just a great holding area for pollutants." Collecting mud is a new calling for Dr. Widder, a marine biologist who is known around the world for her work in much larger bodies of water. Read More

TC Palm Article: John D. Orcutt Jr.: Federal, State Regulators Asleep
Driving over a bridge spanning the Indian River Lagoon one sees a wonderful view of nature that enhances the aesthetic and economic value of the area. However, if one zooms in closer and thinks about the condition of the lagoon 25 years ago, one realizes it has changed. There has been a degradation of water quality over time. I remember filling buckets with shrimp netted off the Wabasso Causeway, collecting delicious oysters off numerous spoil islands, canoeing over dense sea grass beds... Read More

IMPACT 100 Award Helps Fund Pilot Project
ORCA was honored to be selected as a finalist in the Indian River Impact 100 awards in Vero Beach, Florida. Established by the Indian River Community Foundation, this innovative program of 350 women philanthropists is dedicated to supporting programs that will have a transformational impact throughout the community.  Participating in Impact 100 provided ORCA the opportunity to increase understanding of our mission to protect and restore vital marine and freshwater ecosystems. Within days of our presentation to the members of Impact 100, we were thrilled to receive a major gift from an anonymous donor, as well as several contributions from others in the Impact 100 audience. This additional support, together with the $16,000 grant from Impact 100, makes it possible for us to move forward with a pilot project using ORCA’s proven technology to show the value of making water pollution visible in a color gradient map, similar to a weather map. Read More

Indian River Lagoon in Critical Condition; Save It Now or Never
My passion for the lagoon pales in comparison with that of marine scientist Edie Widder, recipient of a MacArthur genius award and co-founder of the Fort Pierce-based Ocean Research Conservation Association. Widder has dedicated her knowledge, time, energy and financial resources into studying, preserving and protecting the lagoon's natural environment. Read More

Washington Post Article Shines Light On Bioluminescence
Bioluminescence is as widespread as it is wild and mysterious. Jack-o'-lantern mushrooms, flashlight fish and fireflies are among the multitude of organisms that bioluminesce. Scientists are still finding previously unknown examples of the phenomenon, especially at sea, where bioluminescent species are particularly varied and abundant. In parts of the ocean, 80 to 90 percent of sea creatures make light or harbor microbes that do so. Story

Panel Says BP Oil Spill Threatens Gulf’s Resources
Oil-soaked birds may be the iconic image of the BP spill, but marine biologist Edith Widder said equally tragic events occurred offshore out of sight of the public. The spill’s impact extends to aquatic species already on the brink of devastation, she said, such as Atlantic bluefin tuna that spawn in the area affected by the oil. Read Article

Blacktide.tv Webisode
How much of the 190 million gallons of oil leaked still remains in the gulf and where is it? What short and long term effects on the plankton, oyster beds, crabs, coral reefs and fisheries will we see? When will oil from the Macando spill stop washing up on our beaches, even in the smallest amount? The Black Tide project is dedicated to seeking out honest, reliable answers to these questions and more. Learn More

Real-Time Pollution Monitors to Aid Chesapeake Bay
The Ocean Research and Conservation Association is using new technology in Island Creek and the Choptank River to gather data on water flow that will help show where runoff of sediment and nutrients is most likely to be a problem. That technology also has the potential to identify, in real time, the source of pollution -- possibly down to the farm, development or animal feedlot. Read More

Collection of Scientific Data on Oil Spill Critical
Edie Widder, a world-renowned marine researcher and passionate protector of the ocean environment, has witnessed the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with sadness and a degree of frustration. She believes her organization can provide important scientific data on the impact of the spill, but funding has not been made available and time may be running out.
Read Article

Ocean Researcher Warns of 'Oilberg' Coming Closer to Us
If you listen to Tom Daly, coordinator for St. Lucie County’s Division of Emergency Management, you might feel reassured the worst of the Gulf oil spill won’t be coming our way. Edie Widder, PhD, an internationally renowned ocean researcher based in Fort Pierce, would vehemently disagree. The spill is a continuing disaster that will impact us, our waterways and our grandkids for generations to come, she says.
Read Article

Floridathinks.com Interview: ‘There’s No Making This Right’
Marine scientist and deep-sea explorer Dr. Edith “Edie” Widder sums up what’s happening in the Gulf of Mexico in three words: “a hideous stain.” On Monday, Widder shared with FloridaThinks her observations on the destruction underway in the Gulf from the BP oil spill. Read Article

NOVA Science Now: Profiles Dr. Edie Widder
Meet a marine biologist and explorer who has engineered new ways to spy on deep-sea creatures. See a menagerie of bizarre ocean organisms that use light to lure prey, mate,
and more. Also, Edie answers your questions about deep-sea exploration and how to
protect our endangered oceans.

Goliath Grouper Conservation Update
Read about the range-wide status and conservation of the Goliath grouper in the journal Endangered Species Research, one of the sister journals of the Inter-Research group which also publishes Marine Ecology Progress Series and other important scientific journals. The special issue includes the most up to date information on the species, resulting from a recent workshop. Most of the research has been conducted in Florida.




"Deployment of
ORCA’s Kilroys in the Indian River Lagoon
will be a huge step forward for improvement and restoration efforts as well as the quality of life for area residents."
-George Jones
Indian Riverkeeper

A goliath grouper emits a booming sound as loud as a jet engine at 100 feet.