Tuesday, April 2, 2013

An acronym in conservation biology and policy: ORCA for Ocean Research and Conservation Association

Orca refers to the killer whale (Orcinus orca). But written in all caps, ORCA stands for Ocean Research and Conservation Association, a nonprofit that cares for marine species from top predators all the way down the food web. ORCA was co-founded in 2005 by Dr. Edith “Edie” Widder, a biologist and deep-sea explorer. ORCA's main campus is housed in the historic Coast Guard station in Fort Pierce, Florida [1-3].

ORCA is dedicated to the protection and restoration of aquatic ecosystems, including the species these environments sustain. ORCA's mission statement explains that scientific understanding and advanced technology will play a major role in achieving this goal. For example, the development of high-tech sensor and communication technology is intended to support environmental quality monitoring and to find better management solutions [4].

Smithonian's staff writer Abigail Tucker recently joint Edith Widder in a submarine dive to explore bioluminescent sea animals. She also reports about an ORCA fund-raiser party with Widder near Fort Pierce [5]:
The party is a fund-raiser for her [Edith Widder] nonprofit, the Ocean Research and Conservation Association (ORCA), based in nearby Fort Pierce. ORCA's mission is to monitor coastal pollution, particularly in the Indian River Lagoon. Widder fights back tears while she tells the crowd about dolphins dying from pollution in waters just outside the door. Mullet are showing up with lesions, manatees grow tumors. Widder worries about the implication for human health, too.

Keywords: oceanographic research, marine ecosystems, aquatic conservation.

References and more to explore
[1] ORCA: www.teamorca.org/cfiles/home.cfm.
[2] ORCA Staff Biographies | Dr. Edie Widder: www.teamorca.org/cfiles/about_edie.cfm.
[3] About ORCA: www.teamorca.org/cfiles/about_orca.cfm.
[4] ORCA's Mission: www.teamorca.org/cfiles/mission.cfm.
[5] Abigail Tucker: Light Fantastic. Smithsonian March 2013, 43 (11), pp. 50-59 [www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Bioluminescence-Light-is-Much-Better-Down-Where-its-Wetter-192132481.html].

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