Janelle Van Ruiten, one of our favorite Hülya babes, advocates for one of the many voiceless ocean animals that are often forgotten when we think about conservation: sharks! Through her incredible underwater photography, videography, and work with Florida Shark Diving, Janelle brings awareness to the majesty of these often-misunderstood ocean animals. We caught up with her to chat about what makes her a Hülya babe!
Where do you live and what is your current occupation?
I am currently a photographer/videographer and crew member for Florida Shark Diving out of Jupiter, Florida.
How did you get into loving the ocean?
As a child my favorite movie was, and still is, Free Willy. From that, I grew a fascination and passion for killer whales. My life goal has always been to swim with orcas and raise awareness about them. Following this passion has led me along different paths and helped me develop a strong passion and dedication for all marine life.
What inspires you most to get in the water?
I’m inspired to get into the ocean because of my passion and drive to share the beauty of the ocean with others, both physically and through my photography. Also, for the thrill of the unknown because every day in the ocean is different. You could dive the same spot for years and everyday would be different.
What makes you a proud Hülya babe?
I’m proud to be part of Hülya, not only because of the amazing women behind the brand, but because of their mission to clean the ocean by selling these amazing bikinis. It just goes to show that anyone can make a difference! You just have to be a little creative.
Top bucket list dive trip?
Diving with orcas in Norway!
What is your favorite memory from a dive trip?
This is actually a really hard question to answer. I’ve spent so much time in the ocean and have so many amazing memories. I’d have to say diving in the Red Sea and seeing threshers was an all-time favorite for me. I cried a lot underwater that day! Also, the first time I ever swam with a tiger shark, manta rays, and with dolphins would be about equally as important!
What is one thing you wish everyone could understand about the ocean/conservation/marine life/etc?
There’s so much. The ocean is so fragile, yet so complex. It’s amazing how all life works together so that it can exist in harmony. If only us as humans could do the same. As humans we are so destructive, and we are destroying our oceans faster than we can conceptualize. We still don’t know the complexity of the ocean because there is still so much to learn from it. Right now, the oceans fragile ecosystem is collapsing due to overfishing, pollution, climate change, etc. We need to do something to make a change. The best way to do this is to start with yourself! Start in your kitchen, be a more conscious consumer, educate yourself, limit your waste, and get involved in local conservation efforts. From there, you can begin to educate others and spread awareness.
If you could go diving with one person, who would it be and why?
Rob Stewart because he was, and still is, an absolute legend. He was one of the most legit shark conservationists to this day and a huge inspiration to so many shark divers/conservationists today. It’s safe to say many people that dive with sharks or want to save sharks were inspired by him.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Once again Rob Stewart, my gal pal Madison Stewart, Ingrid Visser, my incredible Ohana Sunny and Snow that run PNW Protectors, my fiancé Tanner, Jane Goodall, and of course Steve Irwin.
Can you share your favorite quote with us?
“There’s still a lot left worth fighting for.” Jane Goodall
“Better to light one candle than curse the darkness”
What is your favorite Hülya kini? Style/color?
My favorites would be the Epiphany bottoms and Wanderlust top in Frozen and the Rame Bottoms and Merkai top in Rust.
If you could dive anywhere in the world where would it?
Tahiti and Norway!