My fear of sharks is much more well managed than my fear of a lot of other things. Being in the ocean has given me so much self-confidence in all areas of my life.
As a shark ecologist, explorer, divemaster, and one of the only women to host Shark Week 2020, Dr. Mareike Dornhege is making great strides in challenging the perception of sharks and sharing their beauty with the world.
When most of us think about sharks, the likely images that come to mind are of those of monsters eating humans. However, this could not be further from the truth. As someone who loves to root for the underdog, it was natural for Mareike to be enamored by sharks. She understands that these creatures, like all living beings on earth, need to be treated with respect and care.
In this episode, Mareike talks about her early childhood memories of drawing scientifically-accurate sharks while most of the other kids drew “normal things” like flowers and houses. This deep connection and love she has always felt led her on a mission to study sharks and help save them.
Mareike is passionate about giving back, which is why she has dedicated much of her life to education. Rather than fearing sharks, Mareike believes in understanding them. She also discusses what her day-to-day life looks like, how she stays productive, and her best deep-sea diving memories.
The lessons we can learn from Mareike’s shark research and encounters extend far beyond the ocean. By having an open mind and heart—and truly trying to understand other beings—we will find beauty in the most unexpected places.
In this episode, Mareike shares:
- Her experience of being one of the only women hosts of Shark Week 2020.
- The way she stood out as a child for drawing scientifically-accurate shark drawings.
- Details about her childhood and how it fostered her interest in sharks.
- What her work environment looks like and the mixture of field and desktop work she does.
- How the Pomodoro technique and waking up early helps her stay productive.
- Her love of deep-sea diving and the work she has done as a divemaster.
- Her most magical diving moment where she unexpectedly encountered whale sharks.
- What she would do if she encountered a very large shark on a dive.
- The most common shark myths she hears and why these are not true.
- Shifts she has seen in public attitudes towards sharks.
- Why being bycatch is the biggest threat to sharks and what we can do to help.
- The influence that David Attenborough had on her and the qualities she admires in him.
- How confidence she gained from spending so much time in the ocean permeated all aspects of her life.
- Advice for anyone wanting to become a marine ecologist.
Dr. Mareike Dornhege is an Oxford graduate and shark ecologist. In search of sharks, Mareike’s journey took her on multiple field expeditions from the UK to Honduras, and eventually, to Japan, where she is currently studying one of the largest shark fisheries in the world. Marieke’s work has been published in Nature and she has been featured as a TV host on Shark Week.
Connect with Mareike:
Demon Fish by Juliet Eilperin
Blue Hope by Sylvia A. Earle
The Soul of An Octopus by Sy Montgomery
Shark Week 2020
Shark Week and Sharkfest’s experts are mostly white men. Why?
The Pomodoro Technique
International Shark Attack File
Jaws by Peter Benchley
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet