Some may know Melissa Marquez as the marine biologist who was caught on camera being dragged under the water by a crocodile while filming for a shark week episode in 2018, or the cute little spunky girl on Great White Kill Zone: Guadalupe that was aired during shark week’s 2019 season. However, Melissa is far more than the young, almost childlike, shark enthusiast that she portrayed; she is a highly educated scientist doing all she can to help educate the world on the importance of sharks.
Melissa can recall, when she was about seven, turning on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week and seeing a great white shark breach from the water. From then on she was hooked. By the end of the show she had her realization that she wanted to study sharks. Melissa has also always had an interest in misunderstood predators and without doubt sharks just happen to be the most misunderstood out there. Hence, she has devoted her life to sharks, mostly through education.
Melissa holds a B.S. in marine ecology and conservation from New College of Florida and a Master of Science in marine biology from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. In June 2019, she started pursuing her PhD in environment and agriculture from Curtin University in Perth, Australia.
Among her extensive list of credentials, Melissa is a well-regarded TEDx speaker, Forbes Science writer, and founder of The Fins United Initiative, which introduces audiences to diverse sharks and the scientists who study them via the program's site. She has also dedicated her time to educating people throughout the world which is reflected in the hundreds of talks she has done. She has traveled to over 20 countries as a professional speaker and passionately discusses the conservation of our oceans.
In visiting her website you’ll discover that Melissa is also actively engaged in research, exploration, communication, and application of scientific knowledge related to the conservation of marine ecosystems. Her research and outreach efforts have been featured in various media outlets, like the BBC's 100 Women tribute, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Scholastic books. Melissa is committed to continuing her work through different avenues, including children's books.
Melissa feels it is imperative for the world to understand that “we need sharks a lot more than most people think. They are a really important part of the oceanic ecosystem. And if you take this predator out of the equation, you're basically going to make it so that this ecosystem falls apart in multiple ways and considering our planet is covered by water, specifically oceanic water … you wouldn't want that ecosystem to fall apart.” What Melissa most loves about sharks is, "How charismatic they are when you are in the water with them. Some are shy, some are super bold, and it’s interesting to see their interactions. It’s like an extreme version of people watching to me."
Melissa Marquez is the true essence of what a mother of sharks should be. Her relentless love and dedication does not go unnoticed by us or many around the world. SharkBytes would like to thank Melissa for all she has done and is currently doing to help raise shark awareness. She has made such a positive impact in the shark world and we take pride in spotlighting her hard work and dedication to such a worthy cause. We are excited to work with Melissa in the near future to help increase shark awareness. #SaveSharksSaveTheWorld