Eugenie Clark once recalled how, as a mesmerized child, she felt “completely attached” to a shark she saw swimming at a New York City aquarium.
“I just felt: If only I could be in the water with a shark,” Clark, then 83, told a Tampa Bay Times reporter in 2006.
Decades after that encounter, Clark — a prolific scientist, writer and professor who changed the way people understand fish — will be memorialized alongside a shark on a U.S. Postal Service stamp.
Unveiled Wednesday, the blue, orange and yellow Forever stamp features side-by-side pictures: one of a young Clark, smiling beneath a snorkel, and another of a lemon shark.
“One of the goals of the Postal Service’s stamp program is to celebrate the people who represent the best of our nation, and Eugenie Clark — I should say Dr. Clark or the ‘Shark Lady’ — certainly deserves this recognition,” said Angela Curtis, Postal Service vice president of delivery operations, in a statement. “She was a brilliant scientist whose groundbreaking work added to our understanding of sharks and marine environments.”
Clark, who died in 2015 at the age of 92, helped found the research center that became the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota. She traveled the world to study fish, wrote books and articles and acted as both an investigator, and advocate, for her beloved sharks.
People called her the “Shark Lady.”
In 2006, Clark told the Times she loved riddles, especially those that revolved around fish. But her legacy extends beyond scientific discoveries. Clark was an Asian-American woman who carved a path into a field that did not, at the time, elevate many people like her.
Clark’s daughter, Aya Konstantinou, said in the Postal Service statement that her family is elated to see “Grandma Genie” be celebrated.
“Her work as an ichthyologist was groundbreaking for proving that sharks are intelligent, and she was a pioneer for female scientists, researchers and scuba divers,” Konstantinou said. “We are so proud of her legacy as an Asian-American woman, teacher, scientist — and most importantly — grandmother.”
A Postal Service spokesperson said the agency printed 18 million stamps to be sold across the country.