Staff Spotlight: Shaelynne Trunk

Raja Ampat Program Coordinator


Shae graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a focus in Marine Science in 2020 based out of Washington state and has spent her last few years out of college as a naturalist leading boat based adventure travel to Alaska. Learning how to dive in high school, Shae continued to pursue a career in diving and had always dreamed of a position where she could SCUBA dive and conduct marine research at the same time. Finding Indo Ocean Project and admiring their mission, Shae joined the Raja Ampat Program and graduated with her Divemaster & Scientific Diver certifications in 2023 and is now based back in the jungle happier than ever to be calling this space home once again.


What is your favorite travel memory?

After college I worked as a naturalist aboard a boat that traveled north from my home state of Washington to the southeast of Alaska. During these trips a lot of my teachings focused around the marine realm and I was able to spend many hours alongside Humpback whales educating my clients about these gentle giants. One of my favorite travel memories was coming across a pod of Humpback Whales bubble net feeding during my first summer of cruising. We turned off our engines and while hanging a few hundred meters back we dropped a hydrophone in the water and got the opportunity to listen to their vocalizations. This moment brought to my attention the intricacies of their communications and how they could time a specific call to create perfectly organized behaviors.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

From the moment I joined IndoOcean Project as an intern I already felt myself growing and expanding in this field more than I had ever anticipated. The confidence and safe space that was curated for me as an intern is now one that I foster for every student I help teach and mentor throughout their own dive master programs. Stepping out of my comfort zone is something I found a bit daunting as I embarked on my journey across the world to join IOP yet with the changes and growth I found here I have been able to step into my role as a program coordinator with much more confidence and support for my community.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Some of the best stories I’ve heard from our return students are the ones in which they express how embarking on a journey into our programs have altered their life paths in ways that they didn’t see possible before their time here. From seeing roles and jobs in marine conversation as more attainable, to honing their confidence in becoming a dive professional, and even finding safety in adventure alongside lifelong community through the bonds that are found here in the jungle. It always warms my heart and reminds me that why we do what we do is so important in such a multifaceted way.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would choose to spend my time in Raja Ampat every time! This space we have created in the jungle is so nourishing, and with our access to the marine protected waters of the Dampier Strait every dive we spend underwater is a new experience of new sights and new science, keeping everything feeling so fresh and exciting. Our base here on Waigeo is very remote and the community that is formed here is one that is very close and supportive of each individual that comes to the jungle in search of their own goals and self growth.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

IndoOcean Project is a unique collaboration of professional diver development courses and conservation based citizen science programs that support a pool of divemaster graduates ready to step into their instructor development courses or even jump into another conservation program with more skill and knowledge than before. I feel so proud of my team and to be apart of this team everyday because each morning we get to be the face of a program that makes a true difference supporting a mission that you cannot find in many places. We get to play a role in the ways not only marine conservation moves forward but also in the building of dive professionals that will be taking their education with them and passing it forward.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I find that the biggest factor to finding success in a company founded in conservation and education is to teach and advocate for an awareness that can be taken away from and applied to situations outside of the program’s bounds. In our case, teaching our interns about conservation tactics and citizen science platforms that can be practiced, sustained, and accessed even after finishing their program allows for the message we hope to continue gaining traction to find movement through their word of mouth and role model behavior. This way, the graduates who leave with an education from IOP inspire others to think a bit more outside of the box, and even consider joining us in our efforts here at one of our bases in Indonesia.