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Young Bay of Plenty scientist set for Deep Sea adventure

Media Release

31 December 2013

Bay of Plenty science student Rebecca Gibson is packed and ready to depart on a 25-day NIWA deep-sea science expedition, after being selected from more than 100 applicants to be a young Blake Ambassador.

Rebecca, 24, along with Auckland student Lucy van Oosterom, will leave Wellington on the 1st of January, bound for West Coast of New Zealand. They will join the crew of the RV Tangaroa, New Zealand’s only deep-sea water ice-strengthened research vessel, which is equipped for a wide range of environmental survey and ocean science work, including fisheries surveys and voyages throughout the South Pacific, Southern Ocean, and Antarctica.

NIWA, the National Institute of Water and Atmosphere, aims to provide the key science services required by the national and international fisheries sectors. Rob Murdoch, NIWA’s General Manager Research, says, “Rebecca and Lucy will be working with our scientists on the annual Chatham Rise survey, whose main aim is to estimate the abundance of hoki, New Zealand’s largest fish export, and other commercially important species, as well as other aspects of deep water biodiversity including fish distribution, abundance, and ecology."

After completing a Kelly Tarlton’s shark dive she was given for her birthday, Rebecca read about a Marine Studies course in Tauranga, “I packed my bags and was welcomed into a new world of education, practical experience and an even bigger love for the ocean,” she says.

Rebecca completed the Diploma of Marine Studies at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, which, “Allowed me to enhance my leadership and teaching skills and create a marine educational programme that was incorporated into the New Zealand Primary School Curriculum,” she says.

She was also part of the volunteer clean up team during the Rena oil spill in 2011, scraping oil from beaches and working with the wildlife crew searching for oiled and injured wildlife, as well as monitoring Little Blue Penguin colonies around Mount Maunganui.

“This experience allowed me to see local residents working side by side together, in less than ideal conditions, and working towards one common restorative and conservation goal,” she says.

After completing her diploma, Rebecca began a Bachelor of Science majoring in Biological Sciences at the University of Waikato.

“With this knowledge I knew where I needed to be and this was advocating environment awareness to children, who will be our future leaders and responsible for making the big decisions for our country, as well as contributing to the change in attitude towards it,” she says.

“Being one of Sir Peter Blake's NIWA Ambassadors is an honour and a privilege and it's something which gives me immense pride and confidence in what I hope to achieve in the years to come, adds Rebecca.

Sir Peter Blake Trust CEO, Shelley Campbell, says, “Rebecca was selected from a shortlist compiled from more than 100 applicants. The Trust looks for someone who will not only be able to add value to the specific NIWA placement, but will also become a true Blake Ambassador by sharing their experiences and knowledge from their expedition with the rest of New Zealand.

“Rebecca has demonstrated an extraordinary passion for the environment and, in particular, a love and respect for the ocean. We think that she will be able to engage New Zealanders in the important work that NIWA does during their voyage and on her return she will continue to be a great advocate for the environment, NIWA and the Sir Peter Blake Trust,” added Campbell.


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