Marine Conservation Internships Abroad

Conduct scientific research in the world’s most biodiverse waters.

Our oceans are vulnerable. They – and all the essential, varied and vibrant marine life that they support – need urgent protection. And you can help. Join one of our marine conservation internships where you’ll gain practical experience and professional skills while contributing to locally-led research projects grounded in science.

Overview

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 starfish slowly feeds on the reef. 

When you join a marine conservation internship program, you could spend your days like this – gaining on-the-ground research experience while working on marine conservation project work that adds to the preservation of a host of marine animals from any one of these countries:

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

At GVI, we offer three different types of marine conservation internships: 

These options allow you to pick a program that takes into account where you are right now and where you want to be in the future. From deciding which career path you want to follow to gaining work experience or completing a research paper, we have an internship that aligns with wherever you are in your studies or career path.

All of our 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 2 to 24 weeks, depending on the program you select. You could join a marine conservation internship in Fiji, where you’ll assist with research in marine protected areas and contribute towards conserving Fiji’s delicate coral reefs and marine ecosystems. Or you could join a marine conservation internship in Mexico. You’ll learn diving and underwater survey techniques, earn your PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certificate, and actively contribute to coral reef conservation on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.

We also provide 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. You can become a professional diver while contributing towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 14: Life Below Water. 

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.
  • Guidance from expert supervisors with PhD qualifications.
  • Four optional online courses endorsed by the University of Richmond.
  • A LinkedIn reference, career coaching sessions and access to a job portal.
  • Comprehensive fieldwork training.
  • Fast-track training and a career guarantee (on selected programs).
  • Access to exclusive datasets and research that’s been cited on Google Scholar (on certain programs). 
  • The chance to author or co-author a scientific paper (on selected programs).
  • 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.
  • One-on-one mentorship from a dedicated remote supervisor.
  • Practical experience leading a specific ocean or marine life research-based project.

Our programs

Internship
Marine Biology Internship in the Canary Islands
Internship
Marine Conservation Internship in Mexico
Research Fellowship
Wildlife conservation research fellowship in Seychelles
Internship
Marine Conservation Internship in Seychelles
Internship
Island Conservation Internship in Seychelles
Professional Apprenticeship
PADI Divemaster and Marine Conservation Apprenticeship in Seychelles
Internship
Sea Turtle Conservation Internship in Mexico
Research Fellowship
Marine conservation research fellowship in Mexico
Research Fellowship
Coastal conservation research fellowship in Thailand
Research Fellowship
Marine conservation research fellowship in Seychelles
Internship
Marine Conservation Internship in Fiji
Professional Apprenticeship
PADI Divemaster and Marine Conservation Apprenticeship in Mexico
Internship
Sustainable fishing internship in Fiji
Internship
Coral Reef Ecology and Conservation Internship in Fiji
Professional Apprenticeship
Coastal Conservation Apprenticeship in Thailand
Professional Apprenticeship
PADI Divemaster and Marine Conservation Dive Shop Apprenticeship in Mexico
Internship
Coral Reef Ecology and Conservation Internship in Seychelles
Professional Apprenticeship
PADI Divemaster and Marine Conservation Apprenticeship in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea
Professional Apprenticeship
PADI Divemaster and Marine Conservation Apprenticeship in the Indian Ocean
Professional Apprenticeship
PADI Divemaster and Marine Conservation Apprenticeship in Fiji
Internship
Coral Reef Ecology and Conservation Internship in Mexico
Professional Apprenticeship
PADI Instructor Apprenticeship in Mexico
Included in your program, at no extra cost

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!
Learn to cook Malagasy cuisine
Handcraft your own canoes
Forage for local medicinal plants
Visit the island of the lemurs
Snorkel in a marine wonderland
Gaze and wonder at the southern constellations
Watch the sunset at Banyan tree
Sleepover on a remote volcanic archipelago
Types of Internships

What type of marine conservation internship can I do?

As a marine conservation intern, you can choose to take part in an internship, a professional apprenticeship or a research fellowship – depending on your goals.

You’ll receive 360-degree support (before, during and after your internship), which makes for a much smoother internship experience. From this solid foundation, you can also customise your internship experience by picking from three different internship types.

Internships

Our marine conservation internships offer online leadership training and a specialisation course in marine conservation that’ll kick-start your professional development and even land you certificates from the University of Richmond. Living on a remote research station with a group of likeminded people from all around the world, you’ll gain practical experience working with real partner organisations. You’ll receive training, gain career-boosting experience and contribute to scientific research that makes an impact.

If you’re keen on getting involved in marine ecology work but would prefer to keep all your options open instead of specialising in one field, you can sign up for an internship. But, what does an internship look like on a day-to-day basis?

Well, picture yourself getting stuck into work that’ll give you a taste of what marine conservation is about as a whole. This could mean working on beach cleanups along Fiji’s coastline, assessing the behaviour of the marine mammals swimming beneath Tenerife Island’s ocean waters, or clocking up dive time while conducting coral reef surveys of Mexico’s Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.

On an internship, you’ll also take on additional leadership tasks and play a meaningful role in GVI’s on-site organisational operations. These may include:

  • Producing content for social media and blogs.
  • Contributing to the planning and execution of fundraisers.
  • Interacting with GVI alumni to gather testimonials.
  • Leading surveys, program activities or workshops. 

Professional apprenticeships

This comprehensive apprenticeship comes with a guaranteed job upon completion. Combining three months of intensive training with a three-month work placement, professional apprenticeships are perfect for those looking for a specialised career development program. Guided by a specialist mentor and impact directors with PhD qualifications, this opportunity offers a chance to gain career-boosting work experience while living on a remote research station for six months with a group of passionate individuals from around the world.

If you’re clear on the position you’re headed for in marine conservation and want to accelerate your career, a professional apprenticeship is your best bet. And since you’ll have the chance to work with local and international partners (virtually or in person) and connect with interns in other GVI locations, you’ll have ample opportunity to gain extensive field experience, collaborate on conservation activities, and build your professional network. 

While you get to know the existing structures and procedures that keep local and international organisations at the forefront of marine conservation work, you’ll be adding to work that builds on your professional skills in a real-world context.

Research fellowships

With access to exclusive datasets that have been cited on Google Scholar over 1,000 times, a research fellowship offers an opportunity to author or co-author your own scientific paper. If you’re looking to grow your scientific research capabilities, or complete your university thesis or independent research projects while learning from the best in the field, marine conservation research fellowships are the perfect choice. After completing the 6-month program, you’ll also be guaranteed a job in the sustainable development industry. 

Advance your research goals under the direction of a specialised career mentor and expert supervisors with PhD qualifications. Living on a remote research station off the beaten track, marine research fellowships allow you to focus your time on researching rare species and habitats, while learning how to collect data and gain experience in field research methodologies. 

During your fellowship, you’ll have an ocean’s worth of opportunities to get involved in research projects that focus on coral reefs, marine mammals, ocean invertebrates and fish, and even shoreline environments where land and sea ecosystems can be seen interacting. 

Any of our marine conservation fellowships will prepare you to begin your career as a marine conservationist or researcher in a wide variety of marine ecosystems.

What if travelling isn’t an option for you right now?

We also offer a range of remote virtual internships where you can gain real-world experience from home. Choose from a range of topics, including marine conservation, wildlife conservation, environmental and corporate sustainability and climate crisis and clean energy. At the end of the internship you’ll receive a certificate endorsed by the University of Richmond and a recommendation from your mentor.

Opportunities for high school students

For high school students looking to join a GVI program, we have a range of teen volunteering programs abroad. Created for teens between the ages of 15 and 17, our under-18 programs combine volunteer work with the chance to connect with like-minded people from around the world, and learn about the history and culture of the country you’re visiting. We’ve been running teen programs since 2012, so you can be sure you’re in safe hands with us.

If you’re looking for an internship in the field of community development, head over to our People site. Here you’ll find a range of internships focused on sustainable community engagement and development. Work on initiatives ranging from gender equality and public health to construction, teaching and business.

Programs

GVI offers a range of exciting marine conservation internships to choose from. Your enrolment manager will advise you on which programs best meet your interests and goals.

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. 

As part of our 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 get involved in biological surveys on a PADI Divemaster internship

Ocean wildlife conservation internships

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

In Costa Rica, Greece and Thailand, 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 Mexico, you can contribute to preserving the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest coral reef in the world. 

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. 

Become a certified coral reef research diver

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 reefs. 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.

Locations

Marine conservation internships in Africa

Set off across the Indian Ocean to a small island in Seychelles that’s bursting with endemic species: from sea turtles and sicklefin lemon sharks to 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 with a marine conservation internship where you’ll spend your days scuba-diving while gaining valuable fieldwork experience. If you’re looking to earn your PADI Divemaster qualification and complete a 3-month work placement the PADI Divemaster and marine conservation professional apprenticeship is for you. A marine conservation research fellowship is perfect for those looking to use their research to lead or co-author a paper on a specific conservation issue or put their research findings towards their university thesis.

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. 

Spend between 2 and 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 kick-start your career with three months of training followed by a three-month work placement with one of our conservation partners when you join a coastal conservation professional apprenticeship. If you decide to join a coastal conservation research fellowship you’ll collect data, conduct surveys and learn species identification. At the end, use your findings to write a research report on topics like wildlife, coastal conservation or marine pollution. 

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

Marine conservation internships in Australasia

Travel to Fiji, an archipelago in the South Pacific, where you’ll be based on the main island of Viti Levu in the district of Dawasamu. Home to almost half the world’s species of coral and an abundance of marine life, you’ll be surrounded by warm waters and white sand beaches when you join a marine conservation internship in Fiji.

On a marine conservation internship in Fiji, you’ll earn your PADI Open Water qualification, conduct research on marine protected areas and contribute towards conserving Fiji’s coral reefs. If you’re looking to learn more about corals, receive extensive training and complete a 12-week work placement at a dive centre the PADI Divemaster and marine conservation apprenticeship is for you. Here you’ll work on protecting the coral reef ecosystem and participate in local conservation initiatives. Gain practical experience assisting with coral and fish species surveys on a marine conservation research fellowship. Use the collected data for your own research project, university dissertation or ongoing research initiatives.

We work closely with the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network and other local NGOs in order to help facilitate the best ways to assist the community in achieving their sustainability goals. Participants who join a program for two weeks or longer can also receive the Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Speciality segment of the PADI Divemaster course. This unique offering by GVI & PADI teaches you about best practices when conducting underwater coral reef surveys. 

Marine conservation internships in Europe

We offer marine conservation internships in two countries in Europe: Greece and Spain.

Greece

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!

On this internship you’ll work with an international conservation team and support ARCHELON, The Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece. 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. 

Spain

In the Canary Islands of Spain you’ll get to focus on working with cetaceans – marine mammals – like dolphins, whales and porpoises. 

On a marine biology internship you’ll 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. Those who join a marine conservation research fellowship will learn to identify and observe whales and dolphins in pods. Working with experts to collect data using photo identification and hydrophones, the data you collect can contribute to research projects or your university dissertation/thesis.

Marine conservation internships in Latin America

We offer marine conservation internships in two countries in Latin America: Costa Rica and Mexico.

Costa Rica

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 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 our conservation internship. Living and working in Kekoldi National Park, you’ll conduct biodiversity surveys, track and collect data on jaguars, and walk along beaches during turtle nesting season to record valuable information about mother turtles and hatchling success. You could also make your stay in Costa Rica all about sea turtle and ocean conservation by joining a sea turtle research and conservation internship.

Or, take part in a wildlife conservation professional apprenticeship and learn the skills you need to do research in a wide variety of different ecosystems. The first twelve weeks involve training and participation in research projects. Afterward, you’ll join our team or partner organisations to contribute to conservation efforts. By the end of the program, you’ll have gained valuable certifications, field experience and a holistic approach to conservation.

Mexico

Warm Caribbean waters, sun-soaked beaches, sea turtles and rays, coral reefs. Mexico has it all when it comes to coastal destinations. Our base is in the town of Puerto Morelos (the oldest town on the Mexican Caribbean coast), and is situated on a stretch of the Caribbean coastline known as the Riviera Maya. From here we offer a range of marine conservation internships.

On a coral reef ecology and conservation internship you’ll learn about the ecology of the coral reef ecosystem through lectures and in field training while contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals #14 Life Below Water. You’ll gain hands-on practical knowledge while contributing to the conservation of coral reefs.

Or, start your career in ocean conservation with a marine conservation internship. After mastering the techniques needed to conduct coral reef surveys, you’ll work towards earning your PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certificate, as well as the PADI Coral Reef Restoration Diver (CRRD) Distinctive Speciality segment of the PADI Divemaster course. This unique offering by GVI & PADI teaches you about best practices when conducting underwater coral reef surveys. You’ll also assist our local partners with their ongoing coral restoration project by either growing coral fragments in a laboratory or transplanting these coral fragments onto the reef.

Seasoned divers who are looking to take their qualification (and careers) to the next level can join our PADI Instructor Professional Apprenticeship – a qualification that can open up a number of career opportunities around the world. After completing PADI Divemaster preparation and assisting the team with surveys, beach cleanups and sea turtle research, you’ll proceed to a work placement at a dive centre, preparing for PADI Instructor certification and the Master Scuba Diver certification. Dive into an exciting adventure of conservation and diving expertise!

When you join a marine conservation research fellowship in Mexico you’ll work alongside industry experts on conservation projects and explore various career options in sustainability, from research to education and policy creation. Your research findings can be used for your dissertation or ongoing initiatives, and you might even have the chance to co-author or publish a scientific paper on an important conservation topic.

FAQs

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

Q: What’s the difference between internships, research fellowships and professional apprenticeships?

A: Internships offer practical experience, leadership tasks and exposure to various aspects of marine conservation. Professional apprenticeships accelerate career development and provide extensive field experience and networking opportunities. Research fellowships focus on scientific research, authoring or co-authoring papers and gaining expertise in specific marine ecosystems. All three options contribute to professional growth and making a meaningful impact in marine conservation.

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

A: This all depends on the type of marine conservation internship you join, and the type of 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 that’ll build on your employability, and contribute towards marine animal and ecosystem conservation in a meaningful way. 

Your enrolment manager will advise you on the destination and program that will best suit the type of internship you’re looking to complete.

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, like GVI, should be able to direct you to their policy on animal interaction, and explain how it takes ethics into consideration. On our programs for example, interns are not allowed to interact with animals for fun as this can be harmful to interns and the animals they interact with. All of our ocean wildlife conservation activities only allow for supervised animal interaction where it is completely necessary, and have clear guidelines as to what this interaction entails and what it doesn’t. Read more about our stance on ethical animal interactions in this policy: How to volunteer ethically with animals

Want to learn more about what makes a wildlife volunteering program ethical? Have a look at this article: Questions to ask when volunteering with animals.