Life Beneath the Waves: A Deep Dive on Oceans With Melissa Cristina Márquez - Atlas Obscura Experiences

Life Beneath the Waves: A Deep Dive on Oceans With Melissa Cristina Márquez

Tue, Mar 12, 2024
4 sessions
$70 per person
See Dates
$70 per person
$70 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

In this 4-part lecture series, we’ll explore the Earth’s oceans, the creatures that inhabit them, and what we can do to protect them.

Course Description

 “How inappropriate to call this planet ‘Earth,’ when it is clearly ‘Ocean.’” ― Arthur C. Clarke

Oceans cover three quarters of our planet’s surface, contain 97% of the Earth’s water, and represent 99% of the living space on the planet by volume. Not only do we humans find the ocean majestic and mysterious, we also rely on it to live; nearly three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity to make a living. In this course led by marine biologist Melissa Cristina Márquez, we’ll explore Earth’s ever-evolving oceans, the ecological interactions that sustain its biodiversity, and what we can do to protect them. We’ll start by backstroking through time, studying the world beneath the waves as it existed millions of years ago. We’ll move through the moments that transformed the oceans to their present forms and explore the rich biodiversity they harbor, from tiny little microbes to the largest and longest-living vertebrates on the planet—whose existence is, partly due to humans, in peril. But there’s hope. And in the last class, we’ll discuss how people are teaming up to preserve marine species and ocean ecosystems for future generations.

Syllabus At A Glance

This course includes four total sessions, each lasting 1 hour on four consecutive Tuesdays beginning March 12.

Session 1 (Tuesday, 3/12, 8–9:00 PM ET)| Through the Sands (and Waves) of Time

Grab your goggles; we’re diving deep into the ancient seas and exploring the life here before (and after) some major extinctions that changed our oceans forever.

Session 2 (Tuesday, 3/19, 8–9:00 PM ET)| Whalecome to Our Modern Seas

We’ll discuss the modern oceans we know and love today, covering different habitats and creatures, and highlighting how each one is vitally important to our planet.

Session 3 (Tuesday, 3/26, 8–9:00 PM ET)| The Worst Anemones of Our Oceans

We’ll cover threats our oceans have faced over time, including the biggest one it’s currently up against: us.

Session 4 (Tuesday, 4/2, 8–9:00 PM ET)| How You Can Kelp

Our final class is dedicated to marine conservation, an emerging blue economy, and how everyone can help keep our oceans healthy for future generations.

Between Sessions

Outside of class, students will be given optional reading materials, including some scientific literature about our oceans 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
  • Tue, Mar 12, 2024
    8:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.
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