- Brooke Collier
Italian born, and raised in the African Congo, Cristina Zenato has been celebrated for her outstanding underwater accomplishments. With a passion for the ocean developing at a young age, Cristina moved to the Bahamas over twenty-five years ago to learn how to scuba dive. Later she excelled at her craft and became a dive operations manager, PADI Master Instructor, NSS-CDS Full Cave Instructor, TDI Extended Range and Advanced Nitrox with Decompression Procedures Instructor. With her elaborate experience and knowledge with the Caribbean Reef sharks, Cristina has curated a unique and personal course which dissolves the frequent misconception placed on sharks. Working and learning from scientists and shark handlers in the Bahamas, South Africa, Fiji, Rhode Island, California, Florida, North Carolina, China and Mexico, Cristina initiated the campaign that resulted in the protection of all sharks within Bahamian waters. Her primary focus is with Caribbean Reef sharks, local to her Bahamian home, but has worked with dozens of species in a variety of locations.
Cristina Zenato is one of the first shark specialists to be able to induce a state of relaxation among the Caribbean Reef sharks through the act of gentle touch. By placing her hand under the shark’s snout, and relaxing her own frequency, Cristina is able place a shark in a state of tonic immobility. This sedative trance often looks as though the shark is falling asleep. The Carribean Reef Shark has freckle-like dots on their snouts, called Ampullae of Lorenzini. These jelly-filled cups allow them to sense the electricity in the water, including the contraction of your own muscles. With being so sensitive, the rubbing is enough stimulation to limit their ability to function. She uses this hypnotic technique to remove hooks and parasites from the sharks, in addition to helping scientists collect data to support research.
Cristina Zenato has done an immense amount of work in educating the public on shark behavior and eradicating the debilitating preconceptions people have placed on them. By communicating the importance of her work, Cristina and the sharks have become ambassadors for many other species. Witnessing this interaction, directly or remotely, has created the general public’s perception of these mysterious underwater creatures.
Alongside her passion for sharks and their behavior, Cristina is an active cave diving instructor. Her underwater explorations led her to be the first woman ever to connect a freshwater inland cave with a saltwater ocean system. Cristina is a member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, The Explorers Club, the Oceans Artists Society, and she's active in a number of other nonprofit organizations. She has dived all the available and lined caves on Grand Bahama, and has accumulated experience in the caves of Florida, Bahamas and Mexico. Her active underwater explorations of dozens of cave entrances over the island has brought her close to the environmental issues regarding their fragility. Cristina actively works on the proposal of creating MPA, organizes, controls and maintains a diving mooring system on the South Shore of Grand Bahama to prevent anchoring on the reef.
Cristina’s deep understanding of the ocean and its inhabitants has brought her audience an all-encompassing and selfless perspective on the planet. Cristina continues to share her cave explorations and her ever growing relationship with nature. The non-profit, People of the Water was founded by Cristina to help expand and educate people on the conduction and distribution of training, education, research and studies relating to water, oceans and environmental issues. With primary focuses in education, conservation and exploration, Cristina Zenato and the team at People of the Water, are taking action steps to create further balance between the relationship of man and nature.