Today I am extremely excited to introduce you to Melissa Cristina Márquez, a marine biologist and shark expert who engages in thoughtful science communication on Twitter; she will be debuting on Shark Week this month and is excited to share with you the books that have impacted her.
Melissa Cristina Márquez is a Latina marine biologist and wildlife educator with a BA (Hons) in Marine Ecology and Conservation degree from New College of Florida, USA and an MSc in Marine Biology from Victoria University of Wellington, NZ. She is a TEDx speaker, founder of The Fins United Initiative (TFUI; www.finsunited.co.nz), host of the Spanish marine conservation podcast ConCiencia Azul (concienciaazulpodcast.weebly.com), and freelance environmental contributor. Márquez can be seen as a co-host on Shark Week 2018, is currently gearing up to go to Antarctica in 2019, and is writing her first children’s book series that focuses on diversity and inclusion in STEM.
What childhood book inspired you to study marine biology?
Funnily enough, “Chicken Soup for The Ocean Lover’s Soul” by Jack Canfield was one of many books that spiked my curiosity in the ocean. Ever since I was four years old I knew I wanted to be a marine biologist, but that book and people’s stories about their varying relationships with the ocean made me want to experience what they had and help others experience it too.
Do you have a favorite book about protecting the ocean?
Marine bio nerd alert, one of my favorite technical book is “Marine Conservation – Science – Policy – and Management” by G. Carleton Ray and Jerry McCormick-Ray. I like their take on conservation and how it must be “informed by the natural histories of organisms together with the hierarchy of scale-related linkages and ecosystem processes.”
Do you have any recommendations for readers to learn more about the the ocean, its life, and protecting it?
Today’s world is more connected than ever. And while we also read more than ever (our Facebook and Twitter feeds, storylines of favorite video games, news sites about current affairs, celebrities or favorite sports), when looking for books people want to see how something fits into their lives. One way to turn people on to science is to show them how it’s used in their daily lives. Not only that, but the public image of science can be negative thanks to the portrayal of ‘geeky’ scientists in previous books and TV shows — finding ‘cool’ role models to read about can help, such as Sylvia Earle, Eugenie Clark, etc. Most importantly, however, I think it is vital we let people decide what books they want to read and trust that they will get to read all the science must-reads in their own way, in their own time. Doesn’t hurt to be a good role model, though; when people see someone who is passionate, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic about science, it will resonate with them. I try to combine interactive media with textbook knowledge through my program, The Fins United Initiative (TFUI; www.finsunited.co.nz), and that seems to hook the kids in (pun intended). Not to mention we also have a book club through our newsletter, as we believe science literacy is very important!
What books would you recommend to readers who are unfamiliar with marine biology but ready to learn more?
The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat by Charles Clover. A non-fiction favourite of mine, the 2009 documentary with the same name was actually based on this book! The #1 threat facing our oceans is overfishing (yes, even over plastic pollution) and this book critiques the modern-day fishing industry and talks about the consequences of overfishing… some we are already seeing today.
Blowfish’s Oceanopedia by Tom ‘The Blowfish’ Hird is one of my recent treasured finds. This book is filled with fascinating facts about what lurks beneath the waves.
The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One by Sylvia A. Earle is another fantastic non-fiction read. It’s an alarming read about the abuse our oceans have suffered, but how there is hope. It’s a National Geographic publication so you know it’s good! And if you don’t feel like learning and just want to color your own ocean, National Geographic’s Magnificent Ocean – A Coloring Book by Justin Poul is fantastic fun.
LitofSci is working hard to feature books by underrepresented authors. Are there any authors of books on marine biology-related topics that you feel deserve to be included?
Eye of the Shoal by Helen Scales is a wonderful read about our relationship with fish (an animal most people think as slimy, cold or just food) and how it needs to evolve. I absolutely love If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams and adore Shark Lady by Jess Keating who talk about my favorite subject – sharks! – in such a refreshing way. These two dynamite authors really paint sharks and the people who study them in a great light, and highlight their importance in our oceans.
Thank you Melissa for your wonderful reading suggestions! I think a few of these will need to be featured in upcoming book reviews. Readers, remember to tune into Shark Week on Discovery Channel to see Melissa and learn more about sharks! You can also follow her Twitter.
Do you want to support Melissa’s science? She is raising money through a GoFundMe campaign for a trip to Antarctica with an education program. Any amount you can contribute will help her towards reaching this goal.