The Truth About Sharks With Melissa Cristina Márquez - Atlas Obscura Experiences

The Truth About Sharks With Melissa Cristina Márquez

Mon, Aug 19, 2024
5 sessions
$80 per person
See Dates
$80 per person
$80 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

In this five-part lecture series, dive into the world of these elegant, powerful predators, exploring the diversity of life that exists across different species of sharks.

Course Description

Over 500 species of sharks roam Earth’s marine ecosystems, but most people are familiar with only a few—typically the ones whose ominous dorsal fins have made it onto the silver screen. In this course led by marine biologist Melissa Cristina Márquez, we’ll dive deeper, glimpsing the complicated, wildly fascinating reality of these extraordinary predators and the myriad lives they lead. Together, we’ll wriggle free from the stale jaws of Hollywood shark depictions, taking time to look more holistically at the magnificent mosaic of shark species out there, their importance to the planet, and what the future holds for them. We’ll cover basic shark anatomy before backstroking our way into the past, where we’ll glimpse the underwater beasts who ruled the oceans in ancient times and look at how humans imagined them from above the waves. We’ll trace that human–shark relationship through centuries to the present day, where it remains rather…complicated. Each session promises to open your eyes and heart a little more to these misunderstood fish; by the end of our time together, you might begin to envision a world in which humans and sharks coexist a little better. 

Syllabus At A Glance

This course includes five total sessions, each lasting 1 hour on five consecutive Mondays beginning August 19, skipping the week of September 9.

Session 1 (Monday, 8/19, 8–9:00 PM ET)| Fintastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Biology, behavior, and beyond

Session 2 (Monday, 8/26, 8–9:00 PM ET)| Grandma Shark: Condensing 450 million years into one bite-sized lesson

Session 3 (Monday, 9/2, 8–9:00 PM ET)| No-fin Compares: Why sharks matter to our planet

-week off-

Session 4 (Monday, 9/16, 8–9:00 PM ET)| Great White Lies: Exploring our relationship with sharks through time 

Session 5 (Monday, 9/23, 8–9:00 PM ET)| Come to the Shark Side: Human-shark interactions, conflicts, and coexistence 

Between Sessions

Outside of class, students will be given optional reading materials, including some scientific literature about sharks, as well as recommended videos and documentaries.  

Pricing Options

This course is available at three ticket prices. This tiered pricing model is designed to increase access for a wider range of students as well as to support our instructors. In addition to tiered tickets, we offer a limited number of no-pay spots for students who would not otherwise be able to take this course. No-pay spots are selected via a randomized drawing two weeks before each section begins. For more information and to apply for a no-pay spot, please click here. To learn more about our pricing model and randomized selection process for no-pay spots, please visit our FAQ page.

Community Guidelines for Students

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Atlas Obscura Online Courses

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Where We’ll Be

Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to each class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access all sessions of your course via Zoom.

About Your Instructor
Melissa Cristina Márquez
Melissa Cristina Márquez

Melissa Márquez is a marine science education expert, currently finishing her doctoral degree at Curtin University. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Mexico, Melissa has worked at the forefront of marine science education and communication for over a decade, hard at work combatting the misinformation that's rampant in ecological fields — and paving the way for Latina women like her in science. With her TEDx talks garnering thousands of views in their first weeks alone, Melissa is a prominent thought-leader and has engaged at global forums such as the National Academy of Science, Oxford, University of Western Australia Global Leader Experience, and National Science Policy Symposium, among others. Named one of Sachamama’s “Los 100 Latinos Más Comprometidos con la Acción Climática” in 2021, “Forbes 30 Under 30: Science” finalist in 2020, and named in InStyle’s 2021 “50 Badass Women” list, Melissa has been touted as “the most enthusiastic shark scientist” people ever meet. She has been featured in NPR, Allure, InStyle, GQ, Seeker, Popular Science, and appeared on Disney+, BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Acciona, and Good Morning America.

When the ocean conservationist isn’t at sea filming for various TV shows, she has been instrumental leading the DEI charge in marine science, fighting for and advancing inclusive science communication efforts, and challenging the status quo for women in STEM. Through her advisory roles in Women in Ocean Science, Beneath The Waves, Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS), and PangeaSeed, she hopes to leave a wake of opportunities for generations to come. A marine scientist by training, Melissa holds a Master of Science in Marine Biology from Victoria University of Wellington. Her first children book series, Wild Survival, was published in 2021-2022 by Scholastic to rave reviews. Her picture book memoir, Mother of Sharks, will be published in 2023 by Penguin Random House, followed by the Sea of Constellations picture book in 2024.

You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

What Else You Should Know

This lecture series is designed so students can participate live or watch a recording of each session, after it airs, at a time that is convenient for them. Sessions will take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions via video or chat. Within 72 hours after each session meets, students will receive access to a recording of the live session, which they can watch for up to two weeks after the course concludes.

Instructors may use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Google Classroom, instructors may use this platform to post resources, discussion questions, or assignments. This platform also offers a space for students to connect with one another about course material between sessions.

We provide closed captioning for all of our courses and can share transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at if you have any questions, requests, or accessibility needs.

Dates and Availability
  • Mon, Aug 19, 2024
    8:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.
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