Hello Share My Lesson!
My name is Melissa Cristina Márquez. I am a marine biologist and wildlife educator who studies Chondrichthyans (a fancy term for sharks and their relatives, the skates, rays and chimaeras). I specifically look at habitat use and migratory behavior (answering why they are where they are) and how the media portrays them. I’m interested in how the public perception of sharks and their relatives has evolved over time and how it impacts conservation efforts, which is where my second passion comes in: science communication!
I created The Fins United Initiative (TFUI; www.finsunited.co.nz) to help spread sound and reliable information about Chondrichthyans. Not only do we feature the diverse species you don’t regularly see on TV, we try to highlight the diverse scientists who study them and the different kinds of science they use. TFUI aims to provide top-notch educational materials, and I wanted to spread these free materials on a worldwide platform, so that’s why we have proudly partnered with Share My Lesson to help distribute the curriculum.
With summer in the Northern Hemisphere comes Shark Week, television's longest running event featured on the Discovery Channel. What started out as a way to inform the masses about these misunderstood predators was overtaken by mock-u-mentaries and sensationalism, something that Discovery Channel’s Rich Ross promised to lead the network away from, focusing this year’s Shark Week on educational entertainment (something TFUI strives to give). While there are still some things Discovery should change, it’s a step in the right direction.
As always, I'll be catching Shark Week this summer, and with so many people tuning in from around the United States, it’s a perfect time to launch our Shark educational curriculum! At TFUI, we want to help you learn about these animals and be able to teach others. Not only will you discover why sharks differ from other fishes, where you can find sharks and the different lifestyles of sharks, but you also will learn why sharks are so important!
There are more than 1,000 species of Chondrichthyans worldwide, and they can be found in virtually every ocean (and even in some freshwater bodies) and are often at the top of the food chain in their respective environments. They help keep populations of other fish healthy (e.g., eating the diseased, dying, mutated; making sure populations stay in check, etc.) and are usually an indicator for overall ocean health.
I won’t give too much away regarding why sharks (and their relatives) are important to our oceans—you can learn all about that in our educational curriculums! Or, check out our website (www.finsunited.co.nz) and Facebook page to stay up-to-date on our latest Chondrichthyan bio, scientist of the month, and what shark science we are showcasing next. And feel free to take a look at my credentials at my personal website www.melissacristinamarquez.weebly.com to learn more.
I look forward to providing Share My Lesson with fintastic materials everyone can use!
Find resources from Melissa on Share My Lesson here and watch Melissa's new TED Talk " Sharks & Female Scientists: More Alike than You Think"
Melissa Cristina Marquez is a Latina marine biologist and wildlife educator with a BA (Hons) in marine ecology and conservation from New College of Florida, USA and an MSc in marine biology from Victoria University of Wellington, NZ. She is a freelance environmental contributor, and founder of The Fins United Initiative,
a programme that brings attention to the unusual and diverse sharks (and their relatives) of the world and the threats they face. She regularly hosts #STEMSaturdays on Twitter to provide career guidance and advice to young women in STEM worldwide. @mcmsharksxx