Marine biologist Jacinta Shackleton underwater in snorkelling gear with a turtle swimming beside her.

Jacinta Shackelton – Reef Guide, Marine Biologist, Determined

Jacinta grew up living in Valla, 5 minutes from the beach. She spent her mornings and afternoons exploring the rock pools for whatever creatures she could find, then sharing her discoveries with everyone on the beach.

Unsurprisingly, that curious ocean lover became a marine biologist whose stunning videos and photos of underwater life are now seen by hundreds of thousands of people on Instagram and Facebook.

Jacinta stopped pursuing marine biology during a really tough time in her life, but she overcame those difficulties and dived into the opportunities that came her way.

Jacinta is based on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. She is a Master Reef Guide and has been able to capture the most remarkable encounters with marine creatures.

In her video profile, she tells how she went from bar work to having almost 200,000 followers across Instagram and Facebook. Her videos and photos have been used by large organisations like The Discovery Channel, Science Channel, BBC Earth, Tourism Queensland and Tourism Australia.

Having experienced an unhappy relationship that, for a time, impacted her career dreams, Jacinta says, “I think relationships play far too large a role in decision-making for young adults. You’re still getting to know yourself honestly”.

After the relationship ended, opportunities began opening up for Jacinta. She applied for jobs and now, she’s doing what she loves.

For young people not sure how to tackle challenges and career goals, Jacinta has some advice:

“Try and focus as much as you can at school and really put in the work and try to get the best grades you can because I feel that sets you up for the future. If you can, try to figure out what you want to do. It can be really hard to decide there and then, but try a few different things, figure out what you’re interested in so you can pursue that”.

You can now watch Jacinta’s story, other stories from local heroes and the full feature documentary film, Inspire U: Stories from the Valley, on our Inspire U project page. We’ll be adding new stories regularly, so come back soon.

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Author: Simone Atallah

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