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Science & Environment

Marine Biologist Eugenie Clark Remembered As Passionate Shark Advocate

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Sharks don't have many friends, in or out of the water, but they had a great one in Eugenie Clark.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Dr. Clark was born in New York City in 1922. When she was a child, her widowed working mother left her at the aquarium on Saturdays.

MCEVERS: That led to a nearly 75-year career as a marine biologist. She was world-renowned - best known for her love and study of sharks.

SIEGEL: When the movie "Jaws" came out in the 1970s, she did her best to dispel the image of the animal as a man-eating machine. Here's Clark in a 1982 National Geographic documentary.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "THE SHARKS")

EUGENIE CLARK: People come to me and say what'll I do if I go in the water and see a shark? You don't have to do anything. The chances of that shark attacking you in any way is so remote. The sea should be enjoyed, the animals in it. When you see a shark underwater, you should say how lucky I am to see this beautiful animal in his environment.

MCEVERS: Dr. Clark built Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida in 1955. Bob Hueter is director of the Center for Shark Research there.

BOB HUETER: When you go back to when she started, shark research itself was an extremely primitive field. There really wasn't much being done. She got us to start looking at sharks as living, evolved animals that were very interesting.

SIEGEL: Clark kept finding interesting things about sharks, writing about them until her death yesterday of lung cancer. Working until the very end with something she predicted she'd do 15 years ago in a piece that aired on Morning Edition.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

CLARK: I figured if I'm in a wheelchair they can wheel me to the end of the boat and put a tack on my back and dump me over the side of the boat and I can go down to the bottom and I can study these fishes as long as I want.

SIEGEL: Marine biologist Eugenie Clark was 92 years old. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.