Jawsome: Shark researcher Melissa Cristina Marquez

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Melissa Cristina Marquez (@mcmsharksxx), founder of The Fins United Initiative, is the curator for the week! Read her interview below:

Why/how did you end up in science?
There is nowhere I would rather be than making observations outside in nature. The ocean holds my curiosity and passion, and my parents nourished that passion from a young age.

Why did you choose your current field/what keeps you there?
I was born with an extreme fascination for misunderstood predators and sharks are the most misunderstood predator of them all. I love constantly learning new things about sharks and their relatives (collectively called Chondrichthyans, which include sharks, skates, rays, and chimaeras).

Tell us about your work?
I am actively engaged in research, exploration, communication, and application of scientific knowledge related to the conservation of marine ecosystems. I study sharks and their relatives (the skates, rays, and chimaeras; collectively known as the Chondrichthyans). I’ve always had a fascination with misunderstood predators; I look at the migratory patterns and habitat use of Chondrichthyans – I aim to help answer why these animals are where they are. I am also interested in how the wider media portrays them and how that sways conservation efforts.

Why should the lay public care about your research/work?
Sharks often play an important role in regulating and maintaining ocean ecosystems. If you remove these important predators, and the whole ecosystem can begin to crash due to a predator-prey balance being thrown out of whack. They play a vital role in the health of our oceans — knowing where they go and how we can protect those areas is an important step.

What do you do on your off-time?
My husband and I have enjoyed our time living in New Zealand these past few years and spend our free time road tripping to different parts of the country! I also love hanging out with friends at a pub quiz night, doing a wine tasting, or going hiking. I love to run in my spare time, and enjoy scuba diving (in warmer than New Zealand waters).

What’s your ideal day off?
Sleeping in, having brunch, going for a workout with the hubby, enjoying the farmer’s market, and then catching a movie at our favorite cinema.

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