I first learned to dive during my junior year at Cairo American College, the American K-12 school in Egypt’s capital city, in the mid-1980s. The PADI dive classes were held at the school’s pool, and our open-water dives were done in the Red Sea off the southern tip of the Sinai.
Diving off Ras Nasrani, with millions of fish in 100-plus feet of visibility, fulfilled a dream I’d had since I was a small boy, reading the adventures of underwater explorers like Jacques Cousteau and Eugenie Clark in National Geographic.
In fact, Eugenie Clark even gave a lecture at my school in Cairo, complete with photos of her many adventures diving the Red Sea, the diversity, and beauty of which she loved.
I was recently reminded of Clark’s lifetime achievements when I received a review copy of “Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist,” an upcoming children’s book written by author and zoologist Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens.
The 40-page biography — meant for kids ages 4 and up — goes through her life, from visiting an aquarium at a very young age to her studying zoology, earning her doctorate degree and subsequent advocacy for sharks.
Clark led quite the eventful life, from her birth in 1922 to her death in 2015. The book talks about her discovering three new fish species in the Red Sea as well as her encountering her first shark in the wild off the Palau Islands in the Pacific.
Clark was also influential in the establishment of the Ras Mohamed National Park in 1983 off the Sinai Peninsula.
“Shark Lady” author Keating writes in a note at the end of the book about Clark:
“Through her legacy, she stood up for sharks, and in the process, stood up for herself. People assumed that sharks were evil and dumb. The also assumed that – little girls shouldn’t dream of swimming with them. On both accounts, she proved them wrong. Eugenie’s life emphasizes how we must never let the world tell us what we can and can’t do. It especially can’t tell us how brave we will choose to be. I think this is a message important for young girls, boys — everyone — to hear.”
“Shark Lady” is a great book to read with a child on one’s lap, introducing him or her both to the ocean world as well as someone who defied the naysayers and became a world-renowned scientist and advocate.
How To Get “Shark Lady”
- ISBN: 978-14926-4204-6
- Recommended Retail Price: $17.99 USD / 16.84 Euros
- Release Date: June 6, 2017