As a Blue Marble Exploration Student Explorer, Rebecca combines her lifelong enthusiasm for “the big blue” with the formal study of the world beneath the surface.
Currently a student at the University of Hawai’i-Hilo, Rebecca is working towards degrees in Marine Science and Communications. A PADI-certified Divemaster and AAUS Scientific Diver, Rebecca works as a research assistant and field-lab technician in the Marine Science department. Most recently she participated in a shark tagging field course and became a responder for stranded sea turtles on the Big Island. While not in the water, Rebecca leads fellow students on outdoor adventures around the island through her university’s student recreation program.
While in high school, Rebecca served as a Youth Ambassador for Scott Cassell’s Undersea Voyager Project, participating in a submersible pilot training program and learning new ways to explore the ocean. In 2011 her underwater footage of a baby Gray Whale taken while SCUBA diving in Laguna Beach, CA quickly went viral and was shown on media outlets around the country, launching Rebecca into the world of underwater filming and photography. This experience inspired her to start an online campaign to save the Aquarius Reef Base, resulting in a chance to dive to the base in person! Rebecca continues to use her passion for exploration to inspire her peers to get excited and take action to conserve the ocean.
Getting to Know Rebecca Ziegler
- Why do you explore? How are you continually inspired to explore?
Ever since I was young my imagination has run rampant with adventures in unknown places, always wanting to see new things and experience the world. Besides watching shows or movies about far-off places, listening to the stories from people I meet from other countries keeps me driven to explore beyond my backyard. I have always loved being around the ocean, when it came time to pick a career, it seemed like a no brainer! The ocean is so vast, with so little of it explored and so much still to learn, I have jumped at any chance to get my feet wet.
- Is there one expedition in your future towards which you are continuously striving?
South Africa is currently on the top of my radar for future expeditions. I am hoping to do both a wildlife filmmaking program and a great white shark research internship there this coming summer. This will be the first time I will be in a new country, across the world by myself, and I can’t wait!
- Do you have one piece of advice for other students who dream of exploring the ocean?
My advice would be to challenge yourself to try something new whenever you can. Whether it be a new sport, hobby or even going on a club event, you never know who you will meet along the way, or what you will learn! I have learned the only things I have ever regretted are things I didn’t do. Get involved with any local dive clubs, aquariums, or beach cleanups. Stay updated on the latest in the underwater world and if your ocean hero is making a stop near your hometown for a conference- go see them! Introduce yourself, shake their hand, and don’t be shy. Step out of your comfort zone, dare to dream, and you might discover something new.
- Who are your role models in exploration and why do they inspire you?
My role models in exploration range from Her Deepness, Sylvia Earle, to Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his family’s legacy of ocean exploration. Their pioneering feats in the underwater world feed my hunger for pursuing my own adventures. But more personally my family, friends, and colleagues inspire me to dream, discover and explore the world around me.