Amazing Women: Eugenie Clark, the Shark Lady

Eugenie Clark, The Shark Lady photo can be found HERE.

Dr. Eugenie Clark, an Ichthyologist and Oceanographer, passed away in 2015, but leaves an incredible legacy.  She was 92 years old, and an incredible example of an Amazing Woman. Her field was the study of poisonous fish and the behavior of sharks.  A pioneer in adapting scuba diving for research purposes, she was instrumental in paving the way for today’s marine research. The renowned Shark Lady upset many of the social expectations of women, and especially of women in science.  At a time when it was almost unheard of, Eugenie Clark was diving the world’s oceans, and doing groundbreaking research. Dr. Clark did her doctorate at New York University with a special interest in triggerfish and filefish.  She also studied at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and at Woods Hole, Massachusetts Marine Biology Laboratory, among others. The most extended research trip she ever participated in was a research program sponsored by the Office of Naval Research in Micronesia, Guam and the Marshall Islands in 1949.  These places are remote today….it is a marvel that not only a diver, but a female diver, could actually get there and do research in the 1940s and 50s. It was only 1943 when Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan developed the first viable Aqua-Lung, an open circuit dive apparatus which paved the way for the growth of diving. Eugenie Clark, The Shark Lady, found the first shark repellent, a white secretion from the Moses flatfish, and in the Yucatan she went cave diving and saw sharks sleeping, dispelling the myth that all sharks had to swim to stay alive. After years and years of diving and researching sharks, she was outspoken about how they were given an unfair reputation as mindless, human-eating monsters.  She protested the way “Jaws” depicted them and in all her years of research she was never bitten by a shark. “Clark’s research took her around the world. She carried the flag of the Society of Women Geographers to Ethiopia and underwater off Japan and Egypt; and she carried the flag of the National Geographic Society to Egypt, Israel, Australia, Japan and Mexico.[6] Clark remained active in scuba-diving-based field research on fish and submarine dives for the rest of her life.” wiki. Eugenie Clark was the founder of the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory, now known as The Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, FL, a place I have visited many times. The Mote is a fantastic facility.

Image of Eugenie Clark, The Shark Lady

I think for the best information on Dr. Clark, you could go to Nat Geo where they have written a great article on the woman and her life.  Her contributions to marine science are incalculable, and her pioneering example to both women and Japanese Americans (she was half Japanese) should not be forgotten.  Please click on the Nat Geo link to learn more about this Amazing Woman!

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Tam Warner

Award Winning Travel Journalist and Blogger, writing about Eclectic Travels in the Empty Nest! From scuba to luxury cruises to kayaking to expeditions, Tam is ready to go! Contact me at travelswithtam@gmail.com

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Tam Warner

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