Gutsy Female Marine Biologist Snorkeled with Sharks

By | August 13, 2018

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Long before “Jaws” warned us not to go in the water, a gutsy, smart female marine biologist named Eugenie Clark made it her life’s work to study man-eating sharks. Throughout her long life, Clark faced killer barracudas, dangerous giant squids, and even an encounter with a 500-pound clam, but some of the bigger challenges she faced was being a woman…and a Japanese-American…in the male-dominated,  1940s through 1990s.

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Clark was the Only Japanese-American in her School

Born in 1922 to an American father, Charles Clark, and a Japanese mother, Yumico Motomi, Eugenie Clark was fascinated by fish, especially sharks, from an early age. Her father died when she was just two and her mother later remarried a Japanese business owner named Masatomo Nobu. The Japanese culture was strong in Clark’s household, but it made her an outsider at school. When she graduated from Bryant High School in Queens, New York, she was the only Japanese-American student at the school.

Clark spent many days of her childhood at the New York Aquarium at Battery Park. She longed to study marine biology and oceanography. She was particularly interested in sharks, though everyone thought she was crazy. Why would a young girl want to study these dumb and deadly animals?