Cristina Zenato
Born1971 (age 52–53)
Years active1994-present
Known forShark diving

Cristina Zenato is an Italian-born shark diver and conservationist. She is known for her work with Caribbean reef sharks in The Bahamas.

Early life

Zenato was born in Italy in 1971.[1] Her father was a special forces military diver.[2] She was raised in the Congo until she was 15.[1] She completed high school in Italy.[3]


Zenato began scuba diving at age 22 when traveling to The Bahamas.[4] She started training as a dive instructor and working with sharks in 1995.[5] The same year, she began working for Underwater Explorer's Society (UNEXSO). Later, she became both a PADI Course Director and NSS-CDS Cave Diving Instructor with UNEXSO.[6] Zenato's cave diving projects have included remapping the underwater caves in the Lucayan National Park.[7] Zenato was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame in 2011.[6] She is known for promoting the conservation of, diving with, removing fish hooks from Caribbean reef sharks around Grand Bahama Island.[8][9] Her work has garnered her the titles of "shark whisperer"[10][11] and "mother of sharks."[12]

Zenato has been featured in numerous films and television programs including Shark Week's Sharktacular,[13] Against the Current,[14] and Save This Shark.[15] In the late 2010s, she founded the non-profit, People of the Water.[16] She completed her PADI Course Director training in 2016.[4]

Personal life

Zenato first went to the Bahamas in 1994, during which time she decided she wanted to move there permanently.[6]


  1. ^ a b Toorish, Jeff. "A Passion For Diving: Cristina Zenato". Archived from the original on 2010-09-15. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  2. ^ Kovac, Klara (2020-10-22). "Sharks are not a scary as we might think". Kovac Family. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  3. ^ Burke, Owen James (2014-07-24). "Life in Salt: An Interview with Underwater Explorer and 'First Lady of Sharks' Cristina Zenato". The Scuttlefish. Archived from the original on 2014-07-29. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  4. ^ a b "Q&A with Cristina Zenato: Technical & Cave Diver". Scuba Diver Magazine. 2023-06-06. Retrieved 2024-02-14.
  5. ^ "Grand Bahama shark handler, Cristina Zenato featured in Marie Claire magazine". The Bahamas Weekly. 2013-05-08. Archived from the original on 2013-05-11. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  6. ^ a b c Kirkby, Sarah (2011-05-04). "Local diver is recognized at 'Women Divers Hall Of Fame'". The Bahamas Weekly. Archived from the original on 2011-05-12. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  7. ^ Bahamas National Trust (2018-01-04). "Mapping the Underwater Cave System at Lucayan Ntl. Park". Archived from the original on 2019-09-05. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  8. ^ Evans, Mark (2021-09-04). "Cristina Zenato Joins Bite-Back's Media Campaign". Scuba Diver Mag. Archived from the original on 2021-09-03. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  9. ^ How one diver became the 'shark whisperer' - CNN Video, retrieved 2022-01-02
  10. ^ "This Woman Can Hypnotize Sharks by Touching Them". The Inertia. 2015-09-30. Archived from the original on 2015-10-01. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  11. ^ Kate, Cary (2021-05-31). "Cristina Zenato is known as the 'Shark Whisperer'". The BL. Archived from the original on 2022-01-02. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  12. ^ Evans, Mark (2023-01-12). "'Mother of Sharks' Cristina Zenato takes centre stage". Scuba Diver Magazine. Retrieved 2024-02-14.
  13. ^ Helmy, Sam (2017-07-27). "More Women Take Center Stage On Discovery Channel's 'Shark Week' -". Archived from the original on 2017-10-01. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  14. ^ Singh, Rhea (2019-03-27). "Women directors leading in Ryerson's film festival". The Eyeopener. Archived from the original on 2019-03-28. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  15. ^ Dalton, Trent (2020-08-29). "Mick Fanning faces his demons". The Weekend Australian. Archived from the original on 2021-06-21. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  16. ^ Ramachandran, Mythily (2019-03-27). "Dancing with the sharks". Archived from the original on 2019-03-27. Retrieved 2022-01-02.