In this guest blog post, Melissa Cristina Márquez, author of the new Wild Survival book series for young readers, discusses her own wildlife experiences and how they inspired her to write this new series. Learn more about book 1, Crocodile Rescue!, here.
From a very early age, I have loved the ocean. I was born in Puerto Rico, which is an island, so it makes sense that I have always felt like I was born to be a marine biologist. I have countless childhood memories of exploring colorful coral reefs and tidepools, chasing schools of fish underwater, and collecting shells to identify later at home. As a child, my library was filled with old marine science textbooks I would buy for a few dollars at second-hand bookstores. There was never a question of what I wanted to be when I grew up.
The ocean looks a little different now than when I first started discovering it—the corals are not as bright, the tidepools are littered with plastic, and the schools of fish are no longer plentiful. And this isn’t just happening to my beloved oceans! Look around to our savannahs, rainforests, mountains, and the Arctic.
My childhood curiosity didn’t start with conservation in mind—I simply enjoyed observing the natural world—but my lifelong commitment to studying the world’s oceans has made me determined to protect our wild spaces and wildlife. My current work looks at what environmental factors (such as tides or temperature) influence shark behavior. I have travelled around the world studying these magnificent animals. I am actually currently on a field excursion in the middle of the ocean, using marine technology like drones and underwater cameras to discover why sharks are where they are. Covered head-to-toe in sea salt, my laptop is full of footage that I hope holds more clues into the secret lives of sharks. I can’t wait to tell the world the story of this magical place!
Doing research on our natural world is one way to protect it. We live in a world of accelerated biodiversity loss with limited resources for the conservation and management of these animals. Climate change, plastic pollution, overfishing… just some of the problems facing our wilderness that many aren’t aware are happening.
But the beauty of our blue planet shouldn’t only be protected—it should be celebrated! That is why I find it vital that we turn people’s attention to what is happening on Earth right now. I want to educate not just through academic journals but through television shows and YouTube videos, blogs, social media posts, and books just like the Wild Survivalseries. I’ve been lucky to travel to all seven continents where I’ve swum with sharks in bioluminescent bays, taken care of jungle cats, nursed manatees back to health, and seen lions bathe their young cubs. Born out of a need to bring wilderness to the masses, this series aims to showcase the natural world in a way that I hope inspires children to preserve it.
I am blessed to be able to follow my dreams into the wild. Wild Survival is my way of being a guide into this magical planet… come join me!