Research Department Internships Open Year Round

Intern looking on a boatPacific Whale Foundation (PWF), based in Maui, Hawai‘i, is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting whales and other marine life through research, education, and conservation.  Our researchers have studied whales and dolphins throughout the Pacific for over 30 years and currently conduct projects in Hawai‘i, Australia, and Ecuador.  We offer internships in our Marine Mammal Research Program year-round.  


PWF seeks performance-driven and dedicated individuals for long-term (4 - 5 month) internships. Successful applicants are expected to dedicate 30 - 40 hours per week both in the office and on our research vessel. Applicants must be available to volunteer Monday - Friday and be available for all boat trips. Some weekend availability may also be required. 


Interns assist research staff at PWF’s headquarters on Maui, Hawaii processing and analyzing data from mysticete (humpback whale) and odontocete (toothed whale and dolphin) studies.

Primary responsibilities are office-based and may include:

  • Photo-identification matching of whale flukes and/or dolphin dorsal fins;
  • Data entry and archival tasks;
  • Data processing and analysis;
  • General operational tasks.

Additional responsibilities include land-based and vessel-based data collection within the four-island region of Maui.

Each intern may be assigned to a specific cetacean project according to skill set and availability. Interns also assist staff with other projects, such as outreach events, as the need arises.


Intern workingIdeal applicants should:

  • Possess a university degree or be advanced undergraduates in biology, zoology, marine biology, ecology, or a related field;
  • Have a mature attitude towards research, i.e. be willing and able to work long hours in both office environment and in adverse field conditions;
  • Be proficient with computers and data entry; specifically using PCs and the Microsoft Office suite of products;
  • Have a strong work ethic and superior organizational skills;
  • Be independent, adaptable, and a fast-learner;
  • Be able to collect data in a detail-oriented manner;
  • Have boating experience;
  • Speak, read and write English fluently.

Applicants with little biology or marine expertise that possess outstanding skills in programming, statistical analysis, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and database management are also welcomed to apply.


There is no financial compensation for these positions and interns are responsible for their own living and transportation expenses. This is, however, an excellent opportunity to gain experience in marine mammal research.

Application Process

Applicants must be authorized to legally remain in Hawai’i if they are not U.S. citizens or authorized to work in the U.S.

Interested candidates should submit an application with the following:

  • A cover letter including your availability, i.e. preferred time period (1 page only);
  • A resume describing training, experience and relevant skills (2 pages only);
  • Names and contact information of three references.

Please specify the internship period you are applying for. The date ranges for our internships are:

  • January 1  – April 30  (deadline September 30)
  • May 1 – August 31  (deadline for applications February 28)
  • September 1 – December 31  (deadline for applications June 30)

Please send these items as e-mail attachments (PDF preferred) to - No phone calls or drop-ins, please!

Current Research Interns

  • Dylan Laicher
  • Carla Patulny

Former Research Interns

  • Bryson Albrecht
  • Jack Allum
  • Laura Behm
  • Rheanne Berg
  • Christopher Bolte
  • Amandine Bordin
  • Jessica Bornstein
  • Hailey Brosnan
  • Chelsea Brown
  • Olivia Capeillere
  • Sarah Cesler
  • David Clifton
  • Emma Decloe
  • Reagan Dutton
  • Shannon Easterly
  • Jackie Ellis
  • Melissa Freese
  • Davy Frey
  • Fabricio Furni
  • Javier Tizoc Garcia 
  • Helen Gowans
  • Kaitlin Greenfield
  • Christina Gwilliam
  • Patrice Hostetter
  • Lynne Johnson
  • Anthony Kaulfuss
  • Kendra Lane
  • Gabriella Lattari
  • Jacqueline Loevenich
  • Gabrille Lopez
  • Ryan Mathews
  • Leslie Mettlach
  • Eilidh Milligan
  • Barclay Mitchell
  • Sarah Mousel
  • Martin Narvaez
  • Jessica Nathenson
  • Rachael Nidiffer
  • Megan O'Hara
  • Mike Olinits
  • Felipe de Oliveira
  • Morgan Piczak
  • Cristina Ramasco
  • Corey Sanders
  • Holly Self
  • Todd Sigley
  • Vanessa Simons
  • Rachael Tancock
  • Michelle Trifari
  • Jason Varee
  • Chelsea Whiting
  • Jill Wirt

Feedback from past interns:

Holly Self | January-April 2016

The internship with the PWF is a great opportunity to really be involved in current research in all its stages from collection to data handling. Interns get to learn and practice a variety of in-the-field and office based skills, and are involved in the ‘nitty gritty’ of real research. The length of the internship really gives the opportunity to become experienced in the tasks involved, rather than just being trained.

It is an excellent opportunity for those wanting to gain experience in order to pursue a career in research, as you’re genuinely taking part in the variety of research projects carried out at the PWF for the whole period- there’s really not much more you could ask for from such a program.


Martin Narváez | December-April 2015

My overall experience of this opportunity was beyond [what was] expected. I consider that the field experience gained on the boat working on transect lines was a great tool to take advantage of for people pursuing a marine research career. Field work experience is a fundamental aspect for graduate biologists or biology students. The various research projects help interns gather a lot of different skills at the office as well as the field.

In my personal life, this experience helped me develop my undergraduate dissertation work. I'm currently working on population dynamics of humpbacks whales in the Ecuadorian coast with the use of photo-identification.