Dr. Eugenie Clark, Shark Lady
Can you say ichthyologist?
Merriam-Webster online offers this phonetic spelling for better pronunciation. Go ahead, take a stab at it. \ˌik-thē-ˈä-lə-jist\ This is a fancy word for a fish scientist and Heather Lang, author of Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark, delves into the life of “Little Genie,” a budding ichthy… ichthyolo… (sigh) fish scientist, by starting at the New York Aquarium in the 1930s. Genie is completely fascinated with sharks. Her face is pressed against the aquarium glass and she sees, remarkably, not a fearsome ferocity in the swimming Animalia Chondrichthyes, but a wonderful, sleek gracefulness. She absolutely, positively needed to know more about them. She filled her home with fish in aquariums and reptiles in glass boxes and dreamed of studying fish in oceans professionally, especially sharks, even though no other woman had ever done so.
Ms. Clark would change all that by earning a master’s degree in zoology and opening a marine laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, in 1955. After “decades of research and discovery,” she was a highly respected ichthyologist, stating that sharks are “magnificent and misunderstood,” and remain complex, timid, diverse, clever, gentle, and sophisticated creatures. Dr. Clark shattered stereotypes about women scientists in the early 20th Century and ultimately, contributed significantly to the study of sharks and marine science as an academic discipline. This is an excellent book for students in grades K-4 to highlight the role of women in STEM related fields.