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July 30, 2013
Contact: Shelley Dawicki

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A large crowd was on hand July 14 for the statue unveiling and dedication at Waterfront Park in Woods Hole. Photo credit: Shelley Dawicki, NEFSC/NOAA

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Unveiling and Dedication of the Rachel Carson Statue

Honoring a Woods Hole Legend

A large crowd gathered in Woods Hole's Waterfront Park on a hot sunny Sunday afternoon for the unveiling and dedication of a bronze statue of biologist and writer Rachel Carson. The July 14 ceremony focused on Carson's connections to Woods Hole, which began in 1929 and are highlighted in the booklet "Rachel Carson in Woods Hole," published by the Woods Hole Historical Museum and distributed at the ceremony. Among the speakers were former Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) President and Director Gary Borisy, who called Carson "a scientific daughter of this place" and "a marine biologist who kicked the hornets' nest," and Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) Science and Research Director Bill Karp, who linked Rachel Carson to today's female leaders in science.

Rachel Carson was formally affiliated with both MBL and NOAA Fisheries and spent time conducting research at both organizations. She was inspired by scientific colleagues at those laboratories and by researchers at the neighboring Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Among them was Henry Bigelow, who had sailed on the first Albatross and had worked for several decades with the federal fisheries service before becoming WHOI's first director. In 1935 Rachel Carson became one of only two women scientists at the US Bureau of Fisheries, a predecessor agency to NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, working as an aquatic biologist, information specialist, and eventually as chief editor of the agency's publications. In 1949 she and literary agent Marie Rodell became the first women to go to sea on a federal research vessel, spending 10 days on the Albatross III on a voyage to Georges Bank from Woods Hole.

Part of her second  book, The Sea Around Us, was written on that voyage and became a bestseller when released in 1951. Recollections of that voyage by longtime Fisheries employee Roland Wigley, who sailed with her, appear in the booklet "Rachel Carson in Woods Hole." Articles by Wigley and others also appear in the journal Spritsail, (Volume 27 Number 2, Summer 2013), on sale at the Woods Hole Historical Museum's gift shop or through online purchase. Three of Carson's books, Under the Sea-Wind (1941), The Sea Around Us (1951), and The Edge of the Sea (1955), reflect her deep connections to Woods Hole and her passion for the sea.  She worked for the Bureau of Fisheries until 1952, when she left federal service to pursue her writing career full time. Her best-known work, Silent Spring, was published ten years later. Rachel Carson died of cancer in 1964.

Members of the Rachel Carson Statue Committee, all volunteers from the community, are Eric Turkington and Susan Shephard (co-chairs), Catherine Bumpus, James Crossen, Mary Pat Flynn, Jack Moakley, and Marsha Zafiriou. Jim Crossen is an NEFSC retiree, and Jack Moakley heads the NEFSC's Operations, Management, and Information Branch.

Plans for the statue at Waterfront Park were revealed when Woods Hole Honored Rachel Carson September 27, 2012 on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring.  Learn more about Rachel Carson at Women at Sea Aboard the Albatross and as one of NOAA's Top Ten History Makers.

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