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March meeting - The Shark Whisperer - Cristina Zenato

Born in Italy, Cristina grew up in the rain forests of the African Congo until the age of 15, and naturally developed a love of the outdoors. Her tremendous passion for the ocean surfaced at a young age, and following her love for the water she journeyed to the Bahamas for work, and learned to dive.  Since then she has accumulated over 8000 dives, including 1600+ shark feeding dives, 600+ cave dives, and 1000+ mixed gas dives.

Cristina’s love of exploration and caving is inspiring, yet it pales in comparison when it comes to her work with Sharks. Cristina has a natural ‘gift’ with Sharks. Practicing a little known technique of rubbing and manipulating her fingers across the ampullae of Lorenzini all around a shark’s head and face, she induces a tonic immobility. To the observer, this looks like a shark falling asleep right in her lap.



Her ability to work with several types of shark in this manner has allowed her to study them up close, in the wild, with no stress from the usual hooks, gaffs, and undue pain some shark researchers have used.

Cristina has researched shark behavior from the Bimini Shark Lab, South Africa, North Carolina, Florida and Mexico. She has observed the behaviors of Tigers, Great Whites, Lemons, Reefs, and Bulls. She has further developed her practice of tonic immobility, to remove hooks from shark’s mouths, to remove parasites, and for her Awareness Campaign against shark finning and capture, for shark protection, and human education.

When Cristina is not working, she can usually be found freediving or exploring new cave systems. She has been featured on innumerable film and TV shows, including BBC, Discovery, National Geographic, ABC, Science and Nature programs all over Europe and the USA. Films include Der See Wulf, Shark Water, Shark Man, Oceans, including non-profits like Gimme-A-Hug / Protect the Sharks Foundation. She has also been involved in magazines like Skin Diver, Sport Diver, Advance Diver Magazine and also working on calendars to fund shark awareness. Cristina is recipient of Platinum Pro Award 5000 from Scuba Schools International and a member of Women Divers Hall of Fame. She speaks five different languages,and is an instructor with PADI, NAUI, SSI, SDI, NSS-CDS, and TDI.


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  • Carlos V. D.

    This was my second Meetup with the Sea Gypsies and it was fantastic. I attended to learn about shark diving and ended up learning much more.
    Computer difficulties aside, Cristina did a wonderful job !
    In my opinion, Annie Moore's is a much better venue than McGhee's. The Sea Gypsies should consider using them again.

    March 22, 2013

    • Adam R.

      Hey carlos, it was great to see you at Beneath the Sea along with the other gypsies that stopped by our booth to show their support of the club. I agree with you about Annie Moores, however, we need to bring in a crowd like we had last thursday which was about 50% larger than our normal crowd in order for Annie Moores to afford us such a great space. So please spread the word to your friends and anyone else who you think would like to come and share our passion of the oceans and bring them to a meeting ! See you soon.

      March 24, 2013

  • Adam R.

    The event was great ! Thank you Christina Zenato for helping the gypsies live up to their reputation as being the best dive club in Manhattan ! It was great hanging with my home town homies and the staff from my favorite and only dive shop, Kings County Divers from Brooklyn !

    March 22, 2013

  • Kate

    Everything I expected and more. What an inspiration you are to me Cristina. You're the reason why I'm swimming with the fishes - and I hope the reason why I swim with the sharks one day! Bravo on a wonderful presentation!

    1 · March 22, 2013

  • Yvonne

    Awesome, awesome, AWESOME!

    1 · March 22, 2013

  • Michael A. H.

    Cristina made a great presentation! Sea Gypsies was an excellent host and Annie Moore's was a wonderful location for the event. Five Stars all around!

    March 22, 2013

  • Michael A. H.

    I do scuba diving presentations as part of Education Outreach for my dive center and feature Joe Romeiro's video of Cristina - it's always a great crowd pleaser!! She's a great ambassador for sharks.

    March 16, 2013

  • Mark S.

    I've never met a shark whisperer before! Now I can cross it off my bucket list.

    March 15, 2013

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