Howard Rosenstein has penned a moving eulogy to Dr. Eungenie Clark. Genie passed away on 25 February, at the age of 92 at her home in Sarasota, FL. Our thanks go to Howard for sharing these words and the emotions behind them.
Dr. Eugenie Clark – The Shark Lady 1922-2015
Thoughts about a life well lived by Howard Rosenstein.
Genie as we all lovingly called her was one of the most remarkable and impressive people in our lives and in the lives of so many of my colleagues who live, work and love the Sea.
We first met, totally by chance in 1973 when I was speaking at a Boston Sea Rovers conference presenting the first dive travel operation in the Red Sea and she was awarded yet another honor for her life’s work studying, exploring, teaching and protecting the fishes of the sea.
This chance meeting led to her coming to dive with me in the Red Sea with her wonderful (and very young) UW photographic team of David and Anne Doubilet. The year was 1974 and we at Red Sea Diver’s Sharem el Sheikh, then a mere desolate outpost at the tip of the Sinai, were overwhelmed with excitement of having the famous “Shark Lady” and her team from National Geographic coming to dive with us. We dived intensely for over a month and the fruits of that amazing experience was chronicled as yet another Cover Story by Genie in the Sept. 1975 edition of Geographic.
The great success of that story led to many more articles and years of cooperation between us. NatGeo articles as varied as “Flashlight Fish” The “Underwater Desert” “Sharks”, “Bioluminescence” and more. Documentary movies and, TV reports and many other magazine articles and books followed.
What an amazing gift, what a capacity Genie had in sharing her passion and knowledge about marine life with all that surrounded her.
Aside from her life’s scientific work, which was the main focus in her life, Genie also had an army of admirers and “student/tourists” who would follow her to the end of the Oceans to dive with her and assist her in her “field” work. Our diving base in Sharem el Sheikh and later aboard the “Fantasea” liveaboards I operated, was the home of many of these unforgettable and productive expeditions.
With the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt in 1982, Genie showed amazing leadership and determination to make sure the Red Sea reefs and fishes would continue to be protected under the returning Egyptian administration. She organized a meeting with President Anwar Sadat and almost single handedly convinced him to have the Sinai reefs remain and nature reserve and remain open to diving tourism and then personally led the first group of Egyptian scientists to visit the Sinai area after the signing of the Camp David accords.
Genie continue to lead diving trips and research projects until 2014 (her last paper on Ocean Trigger fish was published this month!). Genie was diving and working with her loyal followers and friends in places as far away as Indonesia and Eilat, in the Red Sea where she dived and celebrated her 92nd birthday!!
Genie’s greatest pride and scientific achievement was the founding and of the Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota, FL where she was the first Director and affiliated with for over 50 years. She was also Professor of Ichthyology at the Univ. of Maryland for many years, retiring only about 10 years ago as Professor Emeritus. Her most eminent student is the current Emperor of Japan, Akihito.
My wife Sharon and our 4 children loved Genie as much as I. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Genie’s 4 children, Aya, Hera, Tak and Nikki.
Permit me to share a personal gallery of some of the hundreds and hundreds of images taken with Genie and our colleagues who had together with me, the great and distinct honor and privilege to share the Red Sea with Dr. Eugenie Clark.
May her memory be blessed and cherished by all who knew her and all people who love the sea and nature.