A NEWLY IDENTIFIED SPECIES OF SHARK has been named “Genie’s Dogfish” in honor of renowned marine biologist Eugenie Clark, a.k.a. the “Shark Lady.”
It may be just coincidence that the news about “Genie’s Dogfish” came out just when the cable networks have resumed telling us that it’s totally unsafe to be in any ocean with any shark.
But it’s fitting. Dr. Clark, who died in 2015 at age 92, was a pioneer in shark research and worked hard to elevate the public’s understanding and appreciation of sharks. She was also a role model in science as one of the first women to rise to prominence in a largely male-dominated field.
The species is scientifically named Squalus clarkae but is popularly referred to as “Genie’s Dogfish.” The shark had previously been considered part of another species complex but recent genetic and morphology analysis led to its identification as a new species. The work was done by a team of scientists from Oceana, Florida Institute of Technology and Florida State University.
S. clarkae, a deep-sea species, was identified from the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic Ocean.The journal Zootaxa reported confirmation of this new species in early July.
ABOUT EUGENIE CLARK
Dr. Clark began her career in the 1940s, quickly becoming renowned as a marine biologist and shark expert. She published two books – Lady with a Spear (1953) and The Lady and the Sharks(1969) – and more than 175 scientific articles. She was a pioneer as a woman scientist, as a shark specialist and as a scuba diver and explorer. During her career she conducted 72 submersible dives to as deep as 12,000 feet, and led more than 200 research expeditions around the world.
She was particularly known for her work with and advocacy for sharks, leading to her nickname as the “Shark Lady.” In 1955 she established the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory in Placida, Florida, which became the Mote Marine Laboratory (named after a benefactor and now based in Sarasota) in 1967. She taught marine biology on the faculty of the University of Maryland from 1968 until her retirement in 1992.
ONE LAST GENIE’S DOGFISH FACT
Dr. Clark made her last dive less than a year before her death at age 92 on February 25th, 2015.
PRINCIPAL SOURCES: “Newly Discovered Shark Species Honors Female Pioneer,” Florida Institute of Technology; “Dr. Eugenie Clark (1922-2015)”, NOAA; “Squalus clarkae sp. nov., a new dogfish shark from the Northwest Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, with comments on the Squalus mitsukurii species complex,” Zootaxa; “New shark species: Squalus clarkae, or ‘Genie’s Dogfish,’ Florida Today.