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Eugenie Clark, Mote's 'Shark Lady,' is getting her own postage stamp

A postage stamp shows a woman wearing a scuba mask and snorkel. A shark swims in the background.
U.S. Postal Service
Eugenie Clark, also known as the 'Shark Lady,' was a founding director for what is now Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. A 'Forever' postage stamp honoring Clark will be unveiled in Sarasota on Wednesday.

Eugenie Clark, who passed away in 2015, would have turned 100 Wednesday.

A pioneer of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is being honored with a new "Forever" postage stamp that's being unveiled Wednesday in Sarasota.

Eugenie Clark, also known as "Shark Lady," was a founding scientist of Cape Haze Marine Laboratory in Placida — in Charlotte County — in 1955. In 1967, the lab was renamed after primary benefactor, William R. Mote, and his family.

Clark spoke about her love for sharks in a 1982 National Geographic documentary.

"People come to me and say what'll I do if I go in the water and see a shark? You don't have to do anything. The chances of that shark attacking you in any way is so remote. The sea should be enjoyed, the animals in it," she said. "When you see a shark underwater, you should say how lucky I am to see this beautiful animal in his environment."

Four people stand next to each other in a room with shelves of books and files behind them.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
Mote Marine's then-director Michael Crosby, founding director Eugenie Clark, Laura Bush, and Mote's outgoing president, Kumar Mahadevan, pose for a picture in January 2012.

Clark, who died in 2015 at the age of 92, would have turned 100 Wednesday.

In 2000, Clark told NPR's Morning Edition that she figured she'd continue working with sea creatures until she died.

"I figured if I'm in a wheelchair they can wheel me to the end of the boat and put a tack on my back and dump me over the side of the boat and I can go down to the bottom and I can study these fishes as long as I want," she said.

The U.S. Postal Service creates about 25 to 30 commemorative stamps a year out of around 30,000 suggestions from the public.

Michael Crosby, Mote Marine's president/CEO, told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune they did not nominate Clark and did not know about the honor until the Postal Service asked them to host Wednesday's event.

“I’m not sure how the U.S. Postal service made these decisions but we’re thrilled that they did,” Crosby said, calling Mote "the house that Genie built."

“I always say, there’s three pillars upon which Mote has grown over 67 years — and they’re three pillars the Genie started — and that was passion, partnership and philanthropy.”

The ceremony, which is open to the public, is at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Mote Marine Laboratory at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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