Dr. Eugenie Clark, the famous “Shark Lady” who founded Mote Marine Laboratory, was honored this week with the Legend of the Sea Award from Beneath the Sea, America’s largest consumer scuba and dive travel show.
During the group’s Diver of the Year Awards Reception and Banquet on March 29 in Secaucus, N.J., the gathering of dive-industry leaders and past honorees praised Clark for her contributions to diving, ocean exploration and ichthyology, the study of fishes.
The leaders of Beneath the Sea especially lauded Clark, age 91, for her lifelong courage in diving during the early years of ocean exploration — a more perilous adventure than divers face with today’s advanced gear.
Beneath the Sea Founder & Executive Director Armand Zigahn and President JoAnn Zigahn said in a special letter within the event program:
“Consider how fortunate we all are to live in a time when the men and women who created our industry, invented its dimensions, braved the unknown, returned, told their tale and demonstrate the inspirations that caused them to cross these frontiers of science and technology with great personal courage. Foremost in this cast of leaders, pathfinders and visionaries is this year’s Legend of the Sea, Dr. Eugenie Clark.”
Clark is best known for founding Mote Marine Laboratory, originally called Cape Haze Marine Laboratory, in 1955 in Southwest Florida. Today the Lab has nearly 200 staff, multiple facilities in Florida and scientists who work on six of the seven continents.
Clark is a world authority on sharks and author of more than 175 scientific articles and popular books on sharks and other fishes.
Her diving expeditions are legendary. She has searched for sharks in submersibles, diving to depths as deep as 12,000 feet, and has led diving expeditions to the Caribbean, Mexico, Bermuda, Japan, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea to study the behavior of sharks and fishes of the sands and coral reefs, such as garden eels — a focus of her continuing research.
Her work in the Red Sea was instrumental in the creation of the first underwater National Park of Egypt, Ras Mohammad. The story of her Red Sea exploration, told in her book “Lady with a Spear,” inspired the philanthropic support that led to the creation of Mote Marine Laboratory — a story told in her later book, “The Lady and the Sharks.”
Dr. Clark will return to the Red Sea for her 92nd birthday on a special trip organized by Mote — and she is inviting others to join her. Details below.