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  • Writer's pictureSharks4Kids

Sharks4Kids Ambassador Marissa DeBonis

Marissa is an environmental educator focused on marine conservation and shark science. After completing a Masters degree and working as a shark research and education assistant in Miami, FL, Marissa returned to Long Island, NY where she currently works at Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. She enjoys traveling to explore different marine habitats around the world and bringing stories back to share with students either in the field or in the classroom. She loves coming up with creative activities that allow students to explore complex scientific topics in simple, yet fun ways.

Marissa has been creating JAWsome journal activities and lessons for students! We are thrilled to have her as an official ambassador.

1. What is your favorite shark and why?

My favorite shark is the bonnethead shark. When most people think of hammerheads, they typically think of big, powerful great hammerhead sharks, but often overlook the little guys. Bonnetheads are a small member of the hammerhead family, only reaching a maximum size of four feet!

2. What is one species of shark you would like to study/see/swim with?

I would love to swim with or see a common thresher shark. Getting to observe their specialized hunting strategy of using their long tail like a whip would be an added bonus.

Marissa taking a blood sample during a scientific workup Credit: Field School

3. Why do you love sharks?

I love sharks because there is always something new to learn about them! There are new species being discovered regularly, like the newly discovered deepwater catshark, Apristurus ovicorrugatus. With over 500 different species of sharks- there's always something to learn. I always get so excited when I learn a new fun fact about sharks and getting to share that information and spark curiosity in others is the icing on the cake!

4. Tell us a little about your work with sharks? Areas of interest?

My work with sharks focuses on education and fieldwork. I have assisted in leading courses designed to train future scientists on how to safely fish for and collect data on sharks, like nurse sharks, blacktips, hammerheads, etc. I also teach kids and members of the public about the importance of sharks both virtually and in-person.

5. Why is shark education important to you?

Shark education is important to me because of all of the misconceptions people have about them. Sharks are often perceived as villainous or monstrous, but with so many species in danger of extinction, they need us now more than ever. The more shark advocates there are, the better!

6. What is one fact you wish everyone knew about sharks? Humans are a bigger threat to sharks than they are to us. Accidental bites from sharks are extremely rare- we are not on their menu.

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