Juneau, AK (KINY) - In the wake of tragedy, Ridgway's adventurous career is celebrated.
At the end of December, Juneau Police reported a vehicle crash that saw 54-year-old Michelle Ridgway flown to Seattle for medical treatment. She passed away on January 2nd from that accident. Only her vehicle had been involved in that crash on Glacier Highway.
Despite the sudden tragedy, Ridgway's life has since been celebrated by her family and her peers; she was a marine ecologist and even explored the Zhemchug Canyon, the largest submarine canyon in the world in the middle of the Bering Sea. The Cordova Times put out a brief chronicle of her adventures and pursuits. Many of these details stem from that article.
Ridgway carried an impressive array of scholarly achievements including a bachelor's degree in marine biology from Evergreen State College and a master's in science in fisheries ecology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where she served as a research associate. Time was also spent at the University of Washington, where she studied marine algal ecology and physiology.
The ecologist also passed her work on to future generations through teaching at St. George Island, Old Harbor, and Juneau by working with school districts. She was also recognized for her work with the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, where she put together hands-on marine science adventure camps. Her students through the years learned many aspects of the ocean, including phytoplankton and mamals, benthic food webs and king crab ecology, and the stomach contents of halibut caught by local harvesters just to name a few topics. She also did survey work aboard the Coast Guard cutter Healy.
Her latest projects included seabed mapping, characterizing deep sea habitats, oceanography, and food web processes in the waters of the Arctic and Subarctic. This was done through her company Oceanus Alaska.
Those who knew her spoke highly of her adventurous spirit and passion about marine biology. Her work lives on through her students and the lives she affected along her journey.