WOODS HOLE – Rachel Carson, memorialized in bronze, stares out at Woods Hole Passage, perhaps seeking answers, perhaps inspiration. Dozens of scientists, officials, Woods Hole residents and visitors attended the unveiling of sculptor David Lewis’s statue of the iconic environmentalist in Waterfront Park in Woods Hole on July 14. The statue, whose pose is taken from a photo of Carson that was snapped in Woods Hole, comes complete with a piling and bench so others can share Carson’s view of Vineyard Sound and perhaps of the world.
Eric Turkington and Susan Shephard, co-chairs of the Rachel Carson Statue Committee, explained how the statue came to be. It began with the annual Falmouth Public Library program, “What’s Falmouth Reading?” which chose as its 2010 book, Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.”
At one of the events of the reading program, some of the group that later became the Rachel Carson Statue Committee learned about her ties to Woods Hole, Turkington said.
Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” is said to have begun the environmental movement. She first came to Woods Hole at age 22 to work as a scientific investigator with the Marine Biological Laboratory after finishing college. She wrote to a friend that Woods Hole was “a delightful place to biologize.” She later worked as a staff biologist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and visited Woods Hole often over the years.
Among the speakers at the dedication ceremony was Gary Borisy, senior scientist and past president and director of the Marine Biological Laboratory, who was among the first people that Turkington called with the idea of erecting the Rachel Carson statue. Borisy said it was an honor to be part of the effort “to recognize an individual who changed the world.”
Other speakers included the current president and director of the MBL, Joan Ruderman, and the president and director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Susan Avery. Also speaking was William Karp, science and research director, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, NOAA.
Cheryl Osimo, who is co-founder of Silent Spring Institute and executive director of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, spoke of how Rachel Carson’s research into chemicals and their affect on the environment is the basis for what her organization and others battle to this day. She said Rachel Carson died of breast cancer in 1964.
The Reverend Deborah Warner of the Church of the Messiah in Woods Hole ended the ceremony with a benediction, stating, of Rachel Carson, “her life is a testament to having the tenacity to tell the truth.”