Pacific Whale Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting whales and other marine wildlife through research, education and conservation. Our researchers have studied whales and dolphins throughout the Pacific for over 38 years and currently conduct or support projects in Hawaii, Australia, Ecuador and Chile. A research internship with Pacific Whale Foundation is an excellent opportunity to gain experience in marine mammal research.
We seek performance-driven, dedicated individuals for long-term internships based in Maui, Hawaii. Interns must be available on a full-time basis, including weekends as needed. This internship is primarily office-based and focuses on photo-identification cataloging. Interns assist research staff with processing and analyzing data collected for mysticete (humpback whale) and odontocete (toothed whale and dolphin) studies and related projects.
In the office you will learn: how to input and organize data, how to quality control data, how to photographically identify dolphins and whales, how to use database software, and learn about the general biology and ecology of Hawaii’s marine wildlife.
In the field you will learn: how to scan for and identify whales and dolphins, how to collect photo-ID data, how to collect underwater footage, and how to make behavioral observations of wild animals. Field days can range from 8-12 hours in length and occur approximately 1-2 times per week. Interns must be able to spend many hours on the water and on shore in sometimes extreme weather conditions, including high temperatures and carrying heavy loads of equipment.
There is no financial compensation for internship positions and no housing is provided. Interns are responsible for their own travel and living expenses. There is public transportation available on the island.
We seek performance-driven, dedicated individuals for seasonal internships based in Hervey Bay, Queensland, on the coast of East Australia. Interns must be available on a full-time basis, including weekends. This internship is fieldwork-based and focuses on photo-identification and data collection. Interns assist research staff with long-term monitoring and quantifying potential human impacts on humpback whales.
In the field, you will learn: how to scan for and identify whales and dolphins, how to collect photo-ID data, and how to make behavioral observations of wild animals. Interns must be able to spend many hours on the water in sometimes extreme weather conditions.
There is no financial compensation for internship positions and no housing is provided. Interns are responsible for their own travel and living expenses.
We seek performance-driven, dedicated individuals for volunteer opportunities in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador. Volunteers must be available on a full-time basis, including weekends. Volunteer opportunities are primarily field-based and focus on photo-identification and data collection.
In the field, you will learn: how to scan for and identify whales and dolphins, how to collect photo-ID data, and how to make behavioral observations of wild animals. Volunteers must be able to spend many hours on the water in sometimes extreme weather conditions.
Volunteers have the option to stay onsite for a cost of $500/week, which includes all costs except groceries. Interns are responsible for their own travel to Puerto Lopez.
Applicants must be authorized to work in Ecuador or authorized to legally remain in Ecuador if they are not a citizen. International applicants will be considered, but it is the responsibility of the applicant to acquire necessary visas and documentation. The date range for the field work is July – September, and the application deadline is April 1. If you would like to volunteer in the office to assist with data management, please contact us anytime.
Interested candidates should submit an application with the following:
Send the above items as email attachments to [email protected] with “PWF Volunteer Application” in the subject line.
Barbara Nainiger | May – August 2018
Thank you for this wonderful experience! I’ve learned so much in the past few months thanks to everyone’s help. Being around people like you who have such a passion for the ocean and science is so inspiring and hopefully I’m able to take some of your passion and spread it around the world! Thank you so much for this opportunity!
Jacyln Doody | May – August 2018
Thank you all so much for allowing me to join the team this summer! It has been great getting to know all of you and a lot of fun working here! I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to work at such a great organization, and I’m even more grateful for all of your instruction, guidance and patience in the field and lab. You all were awesome teachers and made it fun to be there, so thank you for that and everything you’ve done to make this an amazing experience. I can’t wait to volunteer in the fall!!
Dylan Laicher | September – December 2016
Thank you for the amazing opportunity to intern with the Pacific Whale Foundation Research Team. It has been such a fulfilling and learning experience and has expanded my skillset in many ways.
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.
Nicole van Daalen | January – April 2019
Interning with the Pacific Whale Foundation was an unforgettable experience! Every member of the research team was extremely friendly and knowledgeable, and helped to ensure I took away as much as I could from this opportunity. This was truly a great way to gain insight into marine mammal research as a career as well as valuable photo ID and field research skills.