Arzucan "Zuzu" Askin is a German-Turkish marine scientist, technical diver, sailor and HSE Class IV commercial diver specialising in remote expeditions with a focus on conservation research and media projects underwater. She was also the recipient of the 2021 European Rolex Scholarship which saw her embark on a year of highly advanced dive training and marine research around the world.
Her scientific work at the intersection of oceans and society, has taken her across the globe, from the monitoring of coral reef health in the waters of Hong Kong, the tracking of illegal fishing activities in Malaysia, ghost gear removal from wrecks in Turkey and monitoring of tourism impacts on whale sharks in the Maldives all the way to acoustic monitoring of blue whales in uncharted Arctic waters. A United World College alumna, she was selected as a 2019 UNLEASH Innovation Lab Talent for SDG 13 (Climate Action) and has been shortlisted as one of the 12 “Women and the Ocean Changemakers” by the Economist Group’s World Ocean Summit 2020.
Driven by a love for wind-powered field work at sea, Arzucan co-founded and led the Oxford University Anthroposea Sailing Expedition, a research and storytelling project that commemorates the start of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the centenary of women’s admission to the university. She was also the founder and expedition leader of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) Marine Social Science Expedition, an innovative sailing voyage in collaboration with Sail Britain to advocate for the integration of the social sciences into marine research.
Since then she has led and participated in research expeditions on land and at sea across Europe, Latin America and Asia - all the way into the sea ice in the Arctic circle. Arzucan is also the founder and expedition leader of Mujeres Tarea Vida, a multi-disciplinary research project on gender and the environment in Cuba supported by the RGS-IBG, the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, as well as the Department of Geography and Environment at the LSE. She was awarded Fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society for her work in the field. As part of the Barba Norway Arctic Sense Expedition she was part of an interdisciplinary dive and research team that sailed a Jeanneau Sunfast 37 into uncharted waters in the Arctic circle to monitor understudied populations of blue whales.
With an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management Arzucan specialises in researching and documenting the complex issues arising where megafauna meet society, covering everything from human-animal relationships, extinction, animal charisma, illegal wildlife trafficking and human-wildlife conflict, all the way to and environmental justice implications of shark fisheries and impacts of tourism on these predators.
Diving in all its forms is not only her greatest passion, but also the most important tool for her research and storytelling work. Arzucan is both an Extended Range Trimix Rebreather diver as well as freediver and loves nothing more than to spend time studying marine megafauna underwater. Together with professional underwater photographer Jono Allen, she recently co-founded the Miyaru Programme to bring together scientists, storytellers and conservationists on a mission to illuminate and redefine the intersection of humans and sharks (www.miyaru.org).
You can learn more about her work and follow her adventures on: www.arzucan-askin.com