Eugenie Clark

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Eugenie Clark
Eugenie Clark.jpg
Eugenie Clark in 2014
Born (1922-05-04)May 4, 1922
New York, New York
Died February 25, 2015(2015-02-25) (aged 92)
Sarasota, Florida
Lung cancer
Nationality American
Fields Ichthyology
Institutions Mote Marine Laboratory
University of Maryland, College Park
Alma mater Hunter College (B.A.)
New York University (M.A.), (Ph.D.)
Spouse Henry Yohinobu Kon (1997-2000); Igor Klatzo (1970); Chandler Brossard (1967 - 1969); Ilias Themistokles Konstantinu (1950-1967); Jideo Umaki (1942-1947)
Children Hera, Aya, Themistokles, and Nikolas

Eugenie Clark (May 4, 1922 – February 25, 2015), popularly known as The Shark Lady, was an American ichthyologist known for research on shark behavior and fish in the order Tetraodontiformes. Clark was a pioneer in the field of Scuba diving for research purposes. In addition to being regarded as an authority in marine biology, Clark was popularly recognized and used her fame to promote marine conservation.

Early life and education[edit]

Eugenie Clark was born and raised in New York City. Her father, Charles Clark, died when Eugenie was almost two years old. Her mother, Yumico Motomi, later married Japanese restaurant owner Masatomo Nobu.[1]

Clark attended grade school in Woodside, Long Island, and graduated from Bryant High School in Queens, New York.[2] She was the only student of Japanese descent in her schools.[1]

From an early age, Clark was passionate about marine science, with many of her school reports covering topics in marine biology. After visiting the New York Aquarium at Battery Park, Clark returned to the aquarium every Saturday, fascinated by marine animals.[3] Naturalist William Beebe’s works further inspired Clark to become an oceanographer.[4]

Academic and scientific life[edit]

Clark received a Bachelor of Arts in zoology from Hunter College (1942). During summers, Clark studied at the University of Michigan Biological Station. Prior to graduate school, Clark worked for Celanese Corporation as a chemist. Clark earned both a Master of Arts (1946) and Doctorate of Philosophy (1950) from New York University. During her years of graduate study, Clark carried out research at the Scripps Institutution of Oceanography in La Jolla, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts, and at the Lerner Marine Laboratory in Bimini.

In 1949, under a Office of Naval Research program to undertake scientific research in Micronesia, Clark carried out fish population studies in Guam, the Marshall Islands, the Palau islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Caroline Islands. After completing doctoral research, Clark received a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue ichthyological studies at the Marine Biological Station in Hurghada, on the northern Red Sea Coast of Egypt. These experiences were discussed in Clark’s first book, Lady with a Spear (1953),[5] the writing of which was supported in part by a Eugenie Saxton Memorial Fellowship and a Breadloaf Writers' Fellowship. The book was a popular success.

Anne and William H. Vanderbilt, fans of Lady with a Spear who owned an estate in southwestern Florida, invited the biologist to speak at a public school in Englewood, Florida, in 1954.[1] After Clark delivered a presentation on Red Sea fishes, attendees shared they found many similar animals in the local waters and were interested in learning more about them. Following this visit, the Vanderbilts built a lab for Clark in the area. This laboratory was christened the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory in 1955.[6]

Work at Cape Haze[edit]

At the Cape Haze Laboratory, Clark teamed with a local fisherman named Beryl Chadwick, who was experienced in catching sharks. The lab’s first request for shark research came from John H. Hellen, director of the New England Institute for Medical Research.[7] As the laboratory’s activities were published in scientific journals, requests from other researchers began to pour into the lab. Researchers from around the world came to study in Cape Haze.[8]

One of the visiting researchers at Cape Haze Laboratory was Sylvia Earle, who was then working on her dissertation research on algae at Duke University. Earle assisted Clark in creating a herbarium by depositing duplicate specimens into the laboratory’s reference collection.[1]

While at Cape Haze, Clark conducted a number of behavioral, reproductive, and anatomical experiments on sharks and other fish. She frequently scuba dove in the local waters, studying various organisms. On these dives, Clark often utilized the glass jar catching technique popularized by Connie Limbaugh, then the Chief Diver at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. These jars allowed Clark to transport unknown specimens back to the lab for further study.[1]

The Cape Haze Laboratory moved to Siesta Key, Florida, in 1960. Scientists continued to visit the laboratory, including chemists from the Dow Chemical Company.

In 1966, Clark left Cape Haze for a faculty position at the City University of New York. In 1968, she became an instructor at the University of Maryland, College Park. While at the University of Maryland, Clark received many accolades, including three fellowships, five scholarships, and six medals. Clark officially retired from the University of Maryland in 1999, but taught one class in the zoology department each semester for several years. Over the course of her academic career, Clark taught thousands of students.

Clark returned to Mote Marine Laboratory in 2000, where she worked as Senior Scientist, Director Emerita, and Trustee until her death in Sarasota, Florida, of lung cancer on February 25, 2015.[9]

Awards and Honors[edit]

Clark received three honorary D.Sc. degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Long Island University, and the University of Guelph. Numerous other accolades were awarded from the National Geographic Society, the Explorers Club, the Underwater Society of America, the American Littoral Society, the Women Divers Hall of Fame, and the American Society of Oceanographers.

Several fish species have been named in her honor: Callogobius clarki (Goren), Sticharium clarkae (George and Springer), Enneapterygius clarkae (Holleman), and Atrobucca geniae (Ben-Tuvia and Trewavas).[10]


Clark was considered an international scientific authority, especially on sharks and tropical fishes. Clark was the first person to train sharks to press targets as well as the first scientist to develop “test tube” babies in female fish.[11] Clark discovered the Moses sole produces a natural shark repellant.[2] Clark’s observations of “sleeping sharks” helped prove sharks did not need to move in order to breathe.[12]

Over decades of research, Clark conducted over 70 submersible dives[2] and led more than 200 field research expeditions around the world. Clark authored three books and more than 175 scientific articles. Clark worked on twenty-four television specials and helped create the first IMAX film.[13]

Clark was an avid supporter of marine conservation. She advocated for preserving the Ras Mohammad area in the Red Sea, which became Egypt’s first national park. Many of Clark’s popular publications, public appearances, and recordings focused on dispelling assumptions of shark behavior and intelligence in an effort to prevent killing sharks and preserve marine environments.


  1. ^ a b c d e Clark, Eugenie (1990). The Lady and the Sharks. 
  2. ^ a b c Mcfadden, Robert D. (2015-02-25). "Eugenie Clark, Scholar of the Life Aquatic, Dies at 92". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  3. ^ "Eugenie Clark , MSA SC 3520-13574". Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  4. ^ Balon, Eugene K. (1994). "An Interview with Eugenie Clark" (PDF). Environmental Biology of Fishes. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  5. ^ Mcfadden, Robert D. (2015-02-25). "Eugenie Clark, Scholar of the Life Aquatic, Dies at 92". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-01-27. 
  6. ^ "Eugenie Clark dies at 92; Respected scientist swam with sharks". Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  7. ^ "Eugenie Clark , MSA SC 3520-13574". Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  8. ^ Clark, Eugenie. "Current research at the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory and reports for 1955-1961". Perry W. Gilbert Collection, Mote Marine Laboratory DSpace. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 
  9. ^ ""Shark Lady" of Mote Passes Away after Nearly 75 Years of Marine Research | News & Press". Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  10. ^ "Congressional Record Extensions of Remarks Articles". Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  11. ^ Stone, Andrea (25 February 2015). "'Shark Lady' Eugenie Clark, Famed Marine Biologist, Has Died". National Geographic. Retrieved 2016-01-27. 
  12. ^ Eilperin, Juliet (2015-02-26). "Eugenie Clark, ‘shark lady’ who explored ocean depths, dies at 92". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-01-27. 
  13. ^ Duncan, Joyce (2001). Ahead of Their Time: A Biographical Dictionary of Risk-taking Women. Greenwood. ISBN 978-0313316609. 


  • Clark, Eugenie (1953). Lady with a Spear. Harper & Brothers. 
  • Clark, Eugenie (1969). The Lady and the Sharks. Harper & Rowe.

Further reading[edit]

  • Balon, E.K., Michael N. Bruton, and David L.G. Noakes (eds.). 1994. An Anthology in Honour of Women Ichthyologists ET, Ro, and Genie. Kluwer Academic Publishers. (Dedicated to Clark)
  • Balon, Eugene K. 1994. Environmental Biology of Fishes, vol. 41, pp. 89–114.
  • Butts, Ellen & Joyce Schwartz. 2000. Eugenie Clark: Adventures of a Shark Scientist, Linnet Books, Connecticut. (Biography of Clark)
  • Brown, R., and J. Pettifer. 1985. The Nature-Watchers, Collins, London, pp. 17–22 and 37–45.
  • Burgess, Robert F. (1976). "Dive into the Past (Part I)". The Cave Divers. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. pp. 110–127. 
  • Ellis, R. 1976. The Shark Book, Grosset and Dunlap, New York.
  • Emberlin, D. 1977. Contributions of Women in Science, Dillon Press.
  • Facklam, Margery. 1978. Wild Animals, Gentle Women, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
  • Garber, N. 1967. Your Future In Oceanography, Rosen Press, New York.
  • Hauser, H. 1976. Women in Sports, Harvey House, New York.
  • Hauser, H. 1987. Call to Adventure, Bookmaker Guild, Longmont, CA. pp. 137–145.
  • Hauser, H. 1990. The Adventurous Aquanaut, pp. 201–216.
  • Kenny, Katherine, and Eleanor Randrup. 2010. Courageous Women of Maryland, Schiffer Publishing, pp. 27–31, 103–104.
  • LaBastille, Ann. 1980. Women and Wilderness, Sierra Club.
  • McGovern, Ann. 1978. Shark Lady, True Adventures of Eugenie Clark, Four Winds Press, New York. (Biography of Clark)
  • McGovern, Ann. 1998. Adventures of the Shark Lady: Eugenie Clark Around the World, Scholastic Book Services, New York. (Biography of Clark)
  • Polking, Kirk. 1999. Oceanographers and Explorers of the Sea, Enslow Publishers.
  • Rappaport, D. 1991. Living Dangerously, Harper & Collins, pp. 71–86.
  • Royal, Bill. 1978. The Man Who Rode Sharks, Dodd, Mead, New York. (Dedicated to Clark)
  • Taylor, V. 1979. Great Shark Stories, Harper and Row, New York.
  • Trupp, Phil. 1998. Sea of Dreamers, Fulcrum Publishing, Colorado, pp. 164–187.
  • Yount, Lisa. 1994. Contemporary Women Scientists, Facts on File, New York, pp. 54–71.

External links[edit]