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Marine Conservation Internships

You’ve got a passion for marine conservation, so what’s stopping you from starting a career in it? Could it be that you haven’t been introduced to the best marine conservation internships yet? 

Our ocean conservation and marine research internships span four continents, make a positive impact in ocean conservation, and are top-rated by past participants at GoAbroad.com. 

Imagine paddling through the warm waters of Fiji’s archipelago, taking stock of the reef’s flora and fauna. Out of the corner of your eye you spy a spot of silver. It’s the near threatened bubble coral, or Plerogyra Sinuosa, that resides on the Caqalai Island reef. Its gleaming coral polyps are the size of grapes, and in the morning light it’s swollen up to soak in every ray within its reach. Nearby, a humpback snapper whips by, and a crown of thorns sea star slowly feeds on the reef. 

As a marine conservation intern, you could spend your days like this and get involved in work that adds to the preservation of a whole host of marine animals from any one of these seven countries:

  • Costa Rica
  • Fiji
  • Greece
  • Mexico
  • Seychelles
  • Spain
  • Thailand.

Gaining this type of international experience is one of the best ways to broaden your perspective of the world, and the field of marine conservation. It also gives you the skills you need to make your start in marine ecology and conservation.

All of GVI’s marine conservation internships contribute to work that’s aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Interns complete project work that factors into long-term conservation goals that are based on the UN’s global objectives and the specific conservation needs of each GVI location.  

Marine conservation internships range from two to 48 weeks, depending on the program you select. As a marine conservation intern you could collect data to help establish community-managed marine protected areas in Fiji, conduct surveys on the various coral and fish species in Mexico, and perform reef recovery research in Seychelles. 

GVI also provides Professional Dive Training on our PADI Divemaster internships, all of which include a PADI segment unique to GVI: the PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Speciality. 

And like all GVI internships, you’ll have opportunities to delve deeper into your program focus than you would on a volunteering program. Complete a GVI marine conservation internship abroad and gain:

  • access to the marine conservation or diving industry
  • comprehensive field training
  • experience in policy-making and conducting research for ocean conservation
  • improved diving skill and technique and dive-shop operational experience (on specific diving programs)
  • increased knowledge on the ocean’s various ecosystems
  • leadership skills from our Leading Teams for Impact online course 
  • one-on-one mentorship from a dedicated GVI staff member
  • practical experience leading a specific ocean or marine life research-based project.

Marine conservation diving internships

Diving skills are essential if you want to work in marine ecology and conservation. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to do research in the ocean.

GVI’s marine conservation diving internships offer the opportunity to achieve a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) qualification. Our PADI-certified trainers will work with you to boost your professional diving techniques and grasp of diving safety. 

In diving internships, marine conservation work is factored in as part of your training and practice. For example, you can feel the ebb and flow of the Indian Ocean while surveying corals, and getting involved in biological surveys on a PADI Divemaster internship

Ocean wildlife conservation

Our marine conservation destinations are well-known for their biodiversity and important marine ecology and conservation sites.

In Costa Rica, Greece and Mexico you’ll work in some of the world’s largest turtle nesting regions, and add to the conservation of endangered green, hawksbill, and leatherback sea turtles. 

In Spain’s Canary Islands, and in Fiji and Seychelles you can put theory into practice in waters that are home to dolphins, porpoises, sharks, stingrays and whales. 

You’ll also be diving in areas where coral reefs cascade in all directions across the ocean floor. After working on any one of these marine conservation projects abroad, you’ll have experience working with a variety of marine animals and environments. 

Marine research internships

GVI offers an exclusive PADI certification that can launch your ocean conservation career into unchartered – but oh so exciting – territories of marine conservation. Our PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Speciality qualification is offered on every marine conservation program that runs for two weeks or more. 

You’ll have ample opportunity to get out into the ocean and gain valuable skills on a daily basis. You’ll also be trained and supervised by experts in the field and collaborate with international and local marine conservation organisations.

And this speciality segment is unique to GVI. It will provide you with all the skills and training you need to conduct research and surveys of coral reef. By the end of this course, you’ll be equipped with at least three survey techniques used to monitor coral reefs, and be able to identify relevant coral reef flora and fauna. You’ll also understand the threats faced by coral reefs, and how the research you’ll be equipped to perform factors into their preservation.

In addition to the skills and techniques you’ll refine during the coral reef research training, you’ll have completed a minimum of two open water dives at diverse dive sites.

Sink into ocean internships in Africa

Set off across the Indian Ocean to a small island in Seychelles that’s bursting with endemic species: from the Aldabra giant tortoise that strolls the sandy stretches and grassy plains, to sea turtles, sicklefin lemon sharks, and coral reefs that streak the sand below the water’s surface. 

If you’re pushed for time, you can dip into an ocean internship on a short-term basis, and get involved in a variety of marine conservation projects abroad. These include a diving-centred marine conservation internship, an environmental and marine conservation internship, or an ocean conservation internship focusing on sicklefin lemon shark and sea turtle research

There are also opportunities to work in marine conservation while earning your PADI Divemaster certification, or contributing towards coral reef conservation

Make the most of marine conservation internships in Asia

As an intern working with the Royal Thai Navy’s Sea Turtle Conservation Centre in Phang Nga, you’ll gain hands-on experience in marine techniques, and see first-hand the ethical approach needed to work with marine animals. Green sea turtles are the main species found in this region, but interns may also contribute towards the care of olive ridley and hawksbill turtles. 

Read more about our stance on ethical animal interactions in this policy: How to volunteer ethically with animals

Spend 2–12 weeks adding to turtles’ well-being by maintaining their habitats and providing them with necessary cleaning – under close supervision by experienced staff members. Or get involved in a coastal conservation internship that brings together land and sea conservation activities. On the Thailand Coastal Conservation internship you’ll spend 24 weeks contributing towards sea turtle, tropical bird, and butterfly surveys that will take you to a whole range of Thailand’s different terrains – from mountain covered jungles to kilometres of white-sand coastline. 

How about making it your business to get a daily close up of the Andaman Sea ecosystem by diving into it? Switch your sandals and shorts for flippers and diving gear, and work towards your Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Divemaster qualification while getting to grips with ocean surveying skills in Phang Nga

Build on marine conservation efforts on our European ocean internships 

Take a trip to Greece during turtle nesting season and you’re sure to see marine conservation interns traipsing up and down the beaches surrounding the village of Giannitsochori. With their eyes fixed on the sand, and hands scribbling away on clipboards, you may just think that you’ve walked into the midst of something very important. And you would have!

This region is home to one of the world’s most important loggerhead turtle nesting sites, and getting involved in marine conservation internships here means making a huge contribution to ocean conservation. 

And, in the Canary Islands of Spain you’ll get to focus on working with cetaceans – marine mammals – like dolphins, whales and porpoises. Work as part of a marine conservation team looking to understand the impacts that whale- and dolphin-watching operations have on these marine mammals, and be part of developing solutions to these concerns. 

Get a leg up in the field on marine conservation internships in Latin America

Counting all the species that live in and around Costa Rica’s rainforests may be too colossal a task – there are around 500,000 of them! But contributing to the conservation of some of these species is completely doable on a GVI marine ecology and conservation internship. 

You could spend anywhere from 2 to 24 weeks moving across the different terrains of Costa Rica and contributing to the conservation of marine and terrestrial environments on programs like the Costa Rica Conservation Short Term Internship. You’ll scout out creatures in the rainforest of Tortuguero National Park – hoping to spot jaguars, and all sorts of monkeys, amphibians and tropical birds while conducting wildlife surveys. 

Or, take part in a conservation internship and learn the skills you need to do research in a wide variety of different ecosystems. You’ll take part in projects that start off in the rainforest before getting you involved in turtle nesting research on the coast of Jalova. 

You could also make your stay in Costa Rica all about sea turtle and ocean conservation by joining our short-term Costa Rica Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Internship.

What do you need to know before setting off on a marine conservation internship? 

Q: What’s the difference between marine research internships and marine conservation internships?

A: Marine conservation internships or ocean internships refer to all of the internships that assist you in gaining the comprehensive skill set that every marine conservationist needs. On the other hand, marine research internships focus even more on the skills and techniques needed to work as a marine ecology and conservation researcher in the field. Any of our marine conservation internships will prepare you to begin your career as a marine conservationist or researcher in a wide variety of marine ecosystems. 

Q: Where’s the best destination to take part in ocean internships?

A: This all depends on the type of marine conservation you’re looking to get into, and the professional development you’re set on achieving. PADI Divemaster internships make it easy to enhance your diving and diving supervision skills, while marine research internships will go a long way in preparing you to conduct ocean surveys, work with important marine conservation data, and collaborate with local and international conservation partners. Ocean wildlife conservation internships will allow you to gain valuable skills in ethical animal interactions, and contributing towards marine animal and ecosystem conservation in a meaningful way. 

Q: How do I know if marine conservation projects abroad are ethical?

A: Ocean internships should be upfront about their ethical stance and what they do to ensure that ethics is a part of all of their marine conservation projects abroad. If this isn’t clearly specified on their website, contact them via phone or email and ask them the following questions:

    • Do you have an animal interaction policy?
    • Is it based on international ethical best practice?
    • Are interns allowed to interact with animals for fun?
    • When and how do interns interact with marine animals?

Reputable organisations should be able to direct you to their policy on animal interaction, and explain how it takes ethics into consideration. Interns should never be allowed to interact with animals for fun as this can be harmful to interns and the animals they interact with. All ocean wildlife conservation activities should only allow for animal interaction where it is completely necessary, and have clear guidelines as to what this interaction entails and what it doesn’t.

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