Learn About Marine Animal Internships
Get Info on Opportunities at SeaWorld and Other Parks
There are many internship options available for those seeking to gain experience with marine animals. Here is a sampling of what the industry has to offer:
SeaWorld offers a variety of internships at its parks across the country. Zoological internship candidates should have completed at least one year of a college degree (with a major in Biology, Psychology, or a related area preferred). They must also be able to pass a swim test, have some experience in animal training or care, and be willing to work outdoors in varying conditions. Compensation for a zoological intern position at Discovery Cove Orlando (where guests interact with dolphins) was $10 per hour plus college credit.
Marine Dolphin Adventure
Marineland Dolphin Adventure (in St. Augustine, Florida) offers a marine animal training internship where interns work with dolphins in a hands-on capacity. Interns begin by shadowing experienced trainers and also assist with food preparation, training, public relations, and habitat maintenance. Applicants should be college juniors or seniors majoring in animal science, psychology, biology, zoology, or a related area. Interns must work 40 hours a week over the three month unpaid internship.
The Georgia Aquarium offers many internship opportunities including an animal training internship option. Animal training interns work directly with the bottlenose dolphins while preparing food, performing habitat maintenance tasks, assisting with daily dolphin shows, learning training techniques, and monitoring behavior. Applicants should be at least juniors in college pursuing a major in biology, animal science, zoology, or a related field. The fall internship runs August through December.
Alaska SeaLife Center
The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) offers internship opportunities in areas such as aquarium husbandry, marine mammal husbandry, and sea lion research. The ASLC internships are designed for college students or recent graduates from a marine or animal related career. The internships last a minimum of 10 to 12 weeks, and housing is provided.
Disney Professional Internships
Disney Professional Internships are offered at various Disney parks. Potential marine internship options include aquaculture, aquatic research, aquatic vet hospital, marine biology, and marine mammal. The marine mammal internship option is offered at the Epcot center, where students learn how to care for bottlenose dolphins and manatees, prepare diets, maintain habitats, observe training, and deliver presentations to guests. SCUBA certification is required, and the internship is only available to junior and senior college students or recent graduates.
Sea Life Park Hawaii
Sea Life Park Hawaii offers internships in areas such as marine mammal care and training, reef and sea turtle care, and veterinary technician services. Interns may work with dolphins, sea lions, seals, penguins, sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, and reef fish. Sea Life Park has the only Green Sea Turtle breeding program in the U.S. All internships are unpaid but lunch is provided; housing and transportation is the intern’s responsibility.
The Perry Institute
The Perry Institute (at their Bahamas field station) offers marine science internships that may be of particular interest to future marine biologists. Interns work with marine scientists at the field station and participate in research projects, diving, and environmental monitoring. Applicants must have open water SCUBA certification and first aid/CPR certification. Summer marine internships are offered from May to September and are unpaid, but full or partial room and board is provided.
REEF Marine Conservation Internships
REEF Marine Conservation Internships (in Key Largo, Florida) are offered to upper-level college students and recent graduates. Internships last for four months and are unpaid, but REEF can offer partial payment of housing costs. Interns gain experience in a variety of areas such as diving and snorkeling, identifying species of Floridian and Caribbean fish, dissecting specimens, conducting seminars, and running a nonprofit office. Students must have basic open water SCUBA certification and gear.
The Virginia Institute of Marine Science
The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) offers summer internships for undergraduates in areas such as marine biology, marine ecology, and fisheries. Internship preference is given to college juniors and seniors. Summer interns also complete a research project during their time at VIMS.
The Multicultural Initiative in the Marine Sciences
The Multicultural Initiative in the Marine Sciences (MIMSUP) provides internship opportunities to undergraduate minority students. MIMSUP accepts eight students to complete two-quarter sessions at Shannon Point Marine Center in Washington, where they complete research projects and attend courses. The program is offered at no cost to the student and includes housing, one round trip from student’s home to facility location, college credit, and a $3335 work-study allowance to cover food costs.
Many more aquariums and research institutes offer marine related internships, so be sure to check their websites for further details. Even if there is not a position listed, it would be wise to send a cover letter and resume when inquiring about any potential opportunities.