Women in Marine Science and the Media

Contributed by Gina Carter

The BBC’s recent Blue Planet II has sparked tremendous interest in marine science. For World Oceans Day, we are highlighting some female marine scientists who are making waves in their field and explore the effects of Blue Planet II on the field of marine science.

When FabFem and Marine Scientist Dr. Sue Pillans isn’t using her marine science expertise to conserve protected ocean areas and coastal resources, she is living life as her watercolor artist alter ego, Dr. Suzie Starfish!

Dr. Suzie Starfish visits schools to use storytelling to take her vast knowledge and translate it into underwater art storytelling to teach about marine science. Through school visits and her children’s picture book, she uses her artistic talents to engage youth and adults in learning about the ocean and how to conserve and protect it for future generations.

She explains that, “To be passionate about our Blue Planet and the world around us you also have to be passionate about genuinely engaging and communicating with people, as it is people’s activities and impacts we manage and educate about, not ocean creatures and habitats. I believe through creative communication we can inform, inspire and illustrate how we can learn, live and love our ecosystems and 'sea' the big picture. So my marine mantra for my 'Comm-Ocean' is if you understand and love it you may be more moved to look after and protect it.”

Learn more about Dr. Sue Pillans and other FabFems that are changing the world with science!


Dr. Edith Widder is a specialist in bioluminescence who helped to develop a technology that allows scientists to view giant squids in new ways.


She helped to develop a luminescent technology called the “e-jelly” that mimics the bioluminescence response of a deep sea creature when it’s being attacked in the hopes of luring another, bigger predator, like the squid. This is better than simply using live bait because it allows scientists to watch the squid interact with its habitat naturally.

Dr. Widder uses her research to understand the communication between creatures using bioluminescence. She helped to create a more natural way of viewing deep sea creatures by utilizing red light which cannot be seen by these creatures. She also utilizes a submersible vehicle with quiet thrusters and non-obtrusive lights so as not to scare the animals.