Eugenie Clark was a female scientist in a male-dominated field. She was respected for the quality of her research as well as her diving skills and courage, often using new and sometimes dangerous diving techniques to get close to sharks at a time when they were portrayed as mindless killers. She campaigned tirelessly to change the public perception of sharks to preserve marine environments, and was fondly known as The Shark Lady.
Thanks to her work we now know – amongst other things – that sharks do not have to keep swimming in order to breathe, that they can learn tricks as fast as mammals can, that the Moses Sole produces a natural shark-deterring chemical and that some fish can change sex in as little as 10 seconds, in order to fertilise their own eggs.
In her lifetime, Clark published three books, including her 1953 bestselling autobiography ‘Lady With A Spear’, which is definitely worth a read!
Eugenie Clark inspired generations of marine biologists, conservationists and divers, and even towards the end of her life, she did not slow down at all – she conducted her last dive in 2014, aged 91.
What an inspiration. Rest in power, Eugenie.