Student Internship Opportunities

The Wild Dolphin Project is the longest-running underwater dolphin research study in the world.

Since 1985, WDP has studied two resident communities of Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) and bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in the northern Bahamas.

During our summer research season (May – September), internship opportunities are available to undergraduates, recent graduates, and high school juniors and seniors, and to overseas students at the discretion of WDP.

All trips leave from West Palm Beach, Florida on a Tuesday morning and return 9 days later Wednesday afternoon.  Students may apply to do two trips back to back (space permitting) to maximize their experience. Students who do not live locally are responsible for their own accommodations on land before and after each trip. Information on local hotel options is available from WDP if requested.

Students must be currently registered in a relevant university or high school program (e.g., marine biology), have swimming and snorkeling skills (and equipment), and be willing to be at sea for 9 days at a time. High school students (age 16 and up) or others under age 18 also need written parental permission as part of their application.

Intern Responsibilities in the Field:

  1. Conduct daily dolphin watches on the bridge.
  2. Assist the Research Assistant or Graduate Students in logging data into our database.
  3. Assist with in-the-water underwater photography.
  4. Assist with processing dolphin photographs for photo identification (during the daytime or nighttime) when schedule allows (depending on encounters).
  5. Review underwater video in the evenings and assist WDP staff with logging individuals and behavior.

Daytime hours: are typically spent looking for, or working with, the dolphins.  Observations occur both from the surface and in the water.  Observations are made from our 62-foot research vessel or possibly in our inflatable boat.

Evening Hours: Lectures on dolphin identification, biology, behavior, and acoustics will be given in the evenings or during the day if weather conditions permit.

Lectures are given by Dr. Herzing, scientific colleagues, or current graduate students working with WDP in their area of specialty.  Students can check with their own universities to receive credit by their advisor if desired.

Skill Sets Required for the Internship:

  1. Ability to live in small quarters onboard a research vessel, at sea, for 9 days.
  2. Swimming in strong currents and proficient snorkeling skills are required (no scuba diving skills needed).
  3. Skills in photography, media processing, and data processing are a plus.
  4. Must be willing to work in a team and safely in the water, and on a boat, under the instructions of researchers and graduate students.
  5. A working knowledge of biology, evolution, and life sciences is helpful and encouraged.

Students Are Required To:

  1. Provide verification that you are currently a student (i.e. student transcripts, student ID card, etc.). This is required for all internship applicants when they place their deposit/reserve their space on board.
  1. Currently be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program, with an emphasis or interest in biology, psychology, or environmental studies. Juniors or seniors in high school age 16+ are allowed with the written permission of parents and letters of recommendation from two current instructors.
  1. Provide proof of health insurance, which is required (please verify that it is valid outside of the U.S. before booking). DAN (Divers Alert Network) insurance is highly recommended for all participants. Written parental permission is required for participants under the age of 18.
  1. Provide a current passport, which is required to enter the Bahamas and to re-enter the U.S. on our research vessel, Stenella. If you currently don't have a passport, let us know at the time of sign up (the application process for a passport can take a few weeks, so please make sure you have enough time to obtain one and email us the information before the trips departs).

Please Note:

  • Dr. Herzing is not always on board for intern trips and working with her is not guaranteed. The intern supervisors are usually the Research Assistant or Graduate Students, however Dr. Herzing might stop by the boat (if possible).
  • During all of our trips we document dolphin ID’s, their behaviors and sound, and life history information.  You will learn about their natural behavior and sounds, their relationships, and their lives in the wild.  During the summer, Dr. Herzing and her colleagues focus on specific projects such as our two-way work with CHAT. However, this is very advanced work and is limited to Dr. Herzing’s colleagues and research scientists. We will not be doing our two-way work with the general public onboard, but we can share certain aspects of our attempts and vision of the work with you while you are onboard.

The 2017 season trips are released! Maintaining your yearly membership ensures you first sign-up opportunity before the general public. We are looking forward with great anticipation to the continuation of our work studying and observing Atlantic spotted and bottlenose dolphins in the wild for our 33rd year in the field!

TRIP DATES STATUS
Trip #1* May 9th - 17th 4 spots available
Trip #2* May 23rd - May 31st 4 spots available
Trip #3 June 6 - June 15 CLOSED for two-way work
Trip #4 June 20 - June 29 CLOSED for two-way work
Trip #5 July 4 - July 13 CLOSED for two-way work
Trip #6 July 18 - July 27 CLOSED for private charter
Trip #7 August 1 - August 9 waiting list only
Trip #8 August 15 - August 23 waiting list only
Trip #9 August 29 - September 6 waiting list only

**PLEASE NOTE: Trip #1 and #2 are dedicated to interns only. You will need to submit proof of student status to fieldwork@wilddolphinproject.org for review prior to signing up for that trip.

The 2017 field season price is $1,650 per person. This pricing is for interns only. To fully reserve your space, we require total payment. Please see "sign-up instructions" for payment options.

To sign up as an intern for the 2017 field season, please email our field office at fieldwork@wilddolphinproject.org with the information below. You may also call our field office at 561-575-5660 with any questions regarding signing up for next year’s field season. Our field season typically begins in May and ends in September.

PLEASE PROVIDE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:

  • Full Name (what is listed on your passport)
  • Mailing address
  • Email address (one that you check frequently – this will be our main form of contacting you)
  • Phone number (cell/home/office) – whichever is best to contact you for additional information
  • Is participant younger than 18 years of age? (Yes or No)
  • Names, phone numbers, and emails of parental guardians
  • Provide verification that you are currently a student (i.e. student transcripts, student ID card, etc.).
    • This is required for all internship applicants and will have to be emailed to us when you place your deposit/reserve your space so that we can verify this information.
  • Written parental permission is required for participants under age 18
  • PLEASE NOTE: Juniors or seniors in high school age 16+ are allowed to participate given that we receive as part of their application:
    • Written permission from the parents
    • Letters of recommendation from two current instructors

Payment Options: After verification of your student status, payment will be needed to secure your spot on our intern trip(s). You may make your payment using the "donate" tab on our website, call our office with your credit card information, or mail a check to: PO Box 8436, Jupiter, Florida 33468. Please note: payment in full is required to fully reserve your spot. Please call 561-575-5660 with questions or email: fieldwork@wilddolphinproject.org

Visit our Trip FAQ's page for some common questions that people ask about our summer trips.  Thank you for your interest in our trips.

Intern description, requirements, and other information can be downloaded here.

2017 Field Season Cancellation Policy is available HERE

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