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:
- Conduct daily dolphin watches on the bridge.
- Assist the Research Assistant or Graduate Students in logging data into our database.
- Assist with in-the-water underwater photography.
- Assist with processing dolphin photographs for photo identification (during the daytime or nighttime) when schedule allows (depending on encounters).
- Review underwater video in the evenings and assist WDP staff with logging individuals and behavior.
- Present powerpoint presentation on an endangered marine animal (assignment instructions will be issued in advance).
- Lead a discussion about a scientific article (assignment details will be provided in advance).
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. Interns will be making their presentations and intern-led article discussions.
Skill Sets Required for the Internship:
- Ability to live in small quarters onboard a research vessel, at sea, for 9 days.
- Swimming in strong currents and proficient snorkeling skills are required (no scuba diving skills needed).
- Skills in photography, media processing, and data processing are a plus.
- 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.
- A working knowledge of biology, evolution, and life sciences is helpful and encouraged.
Students Are Required To:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- This is a chance for interns to learn what it is like to live and work on a research vessel for many days at sea. This is a great opportunity to get a recommendation letter and to build your resume. Our advice is to take this trip seriously and use it as an opportunity to see if research and fieldwork is right for you. Ask questions, participate, and gain an experience of a lifetime.
We are looking forward to continuing our work studying and observing Atlantic spotted and Bottlenose dolphins this summer which is our 39th consecutive year in the field!
There will be designated trips for a limited number of interns. The sign-up instructions provide more details.
Updated: September 27, 2022
PRICE: The internship price ($TBA) is for verified interns only. We require 50% deposit to reserve your spot. The balance (payment in full) is due within 30 days to fully secure your booking. The sign-up instructions provide more details. Contact Melissa, the trip coordinator, for more information 561-575-5660 email@example.com.
To be added to the 2023 trip inquiry list, email your contact information to our trip coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. In December, the trips will be available for sign-up by members only which is a perk of maintaining their membership. During the first week of January, open spots will emailed to those on the inquiry list and the remaining open spots will then posted online for the general public to sign up.
Email the following information to our trip coordinator at email@example.com. You may also call our office at 561-575-5660 with any questions.
PLEASE EMAIL THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:
- Full Name
- Traveling from (State, Country)
- Email address
- Phone number
- Our field season spans from May until September. Please indicate when you would be available to intern with us. (i.e. "school ends mid-May" or "returning to school early August")
Email your contact information (as listed above) and preferred trip number/dates to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also include proof that you are currently a student (i.e. current class schedule, student ID card, unofficial transcript, etc.). Our trip coordinator will verify internship eligibility, confirm availability for your preferred trip, and reply with a short application and provide methods of payment. A 50% deposit is required to reserve your spot and the balance must be paid within 30 days. Credit cards, check, and Paypal are all accepted.
Your completed application, student verification, and payment in full are needed to fully secure your spot on the trip. Trip details such as packing guidelines, intern reading assignment, and marina instructions will then be provided.
WAITING LIST: If there is an open spot or last minute cancellation within (45) days of departure on a regular passenger trip, we will allow interns to fill the open spot(s) at the internship rate.