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 internships based out of our Maalaea, Maui office. Interns are expected to be available on a full-time basis, including weekends as needed. 


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 field work: year-round boat surveys for odontocetes and marine debris, and, during the winter, land-based surveys for humpback whales using a theodolite. 

Interns must be able to spend many hours on the water and on shore in sometimes extreme weather conditions, including high temperatures, hiking into remote areas, and carrying heavy loads of equipment. Field days typically exceed eight hours and occur approximately 1-3 times per week.

Interns also assist staff with other projects, such as outreach events, as the need arises.


Intern working

  • Possess a university degree or be advanced undergraduates in biology, zoology, marine biology, ecology, or a related field;
  • Be available to volunteer on a full-time basis for the entire internship period and must be available for all field work;
  • Have a mature attitude towards research;
  • Be proficient with computers and data entry; specifically using PCs and the Microsoft Office suite of products;
  • Willingness to spend long hours in front of a computer doing repetitive tasks;
  • 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.


There is no financial compensation for these positions and no housing is provided. Interns are responsible for their own travel and living expenses. There is public transportation available on the island.

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. International applicants will be considered, but it is the responsibility of the applicant to acquire necessary visas and documentation.

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

  • Eduard Drost
  • Madison Hahn
  • Valentin Neamtu

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
  • Simona Clausnitzer
  • David Clifton
  • Emma Decloe
  • Reagan Dutton
  • Shannon Easterly
  • Jackie Ellis
  • Christiana Ferro
  • Melissa Freese
  • Davy Frey
  • Fabricio Furni
  • Javier Tizoc Garcia 
  • Helen Gowans
  • Kaitlin Greenfield
  • Christina Gwilliam
  • Patrice Hostetter
  • Lynne Johnson
  • Anthony Kaulfuss
  • Dylan Laicher
  • 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
  • Carla Patulny
  • Morgan Piczak
  • Cristina Ramasco
  • Corey Sanders
  • Holly Self
  • Todd Sigley
  • Vanessa Simons
  • Rachael Tancock
  • Michelle Trifari
  • Jason Varee
  • Chelsea Whiting
  • Jill Wirt
  • Kaitlin Yehle

Feedback from past interns:

Rachael Nidiffer | July - October 2016 and December-April 2015

I was a research intern for Pacific Whale Foundation on Maui in 2015 and Hervey Bay, Australia in 2016. I was able to develop certain skill sets through basic boating practice and gain experience in behavioral observation that have led me to become a more confident and independent researcher. Both experiences were able to provide me with a good sense of office based research as well as data collection in the field. I have learned how to identify different mysticetes (whales) and odontocetes (dolphins) via photo-identification as well as how to take professional pictures for future photo-ID (e.g., lighting, angle). Days in the office are put to good use with matching individuals to photos from years past, as well as participating in multiple other projects that are going on throughout the research department, such as marine debris. Starting off as an intern and growing within the foundation has reassured me that hard work and long hours (while not all glamorous) do pay off. The opportunities the foundation has given me over the past couple years have left me with not only science/research experience, but also helped me to make science connections with people from around the world. 


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.