Marine Mammal Science Job Openings

Virginia Aquarium – Stranding Response Intern

Job Category: Internship Opportunities (unpaid)
Date Posted:

The Virginia Aquarium’s Research & Conservation Division is now accepting Stranding Response Intern applications for summer 2021. The application deadline is February 12, 2021. Internships will be approximately three months long, starting between May and June. Internships will be fulfilled in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines and positions are subject to change based on the most current recommendations. Please note that all positions are non-compensatory and housing is not provided by the Virginia Aquarium. Interns are fully responsible for fulfilling all requirements of their home institutions to receive academic credit.

Position Overview
Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program (VAQS) interns promote the conservation of marine animal species through research, rescue, rehabilitation, and education. Once accepted, interns will be assigned to a focus area of either necropsy or rehabilitation. Interns will be cross-trained in all aspects of stranding response, however, daily tasks will be assigned to interns according to focus area. Stranding work is unpredictable, therefore experiences will vary by internship session. VAQS staff will provide as many learning opportunities as possible during each session.

– Respond to live and dead marine mammals and sea turtles in the field.
– Participate in all aspects of post-mortem examinations: cutting and sampling, data collection, photographing, carcass removal, and cleaning.
– Perform daily husbandry tasks, including food preparation, feeding, and cleaning the rehab area, kitchen and associated supplies.
– Assist staff with new admits and daily treatments of patients. Restrain animals for exams, collect vitals (heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature) and morphometrics, take photographs, administer medications, and perform wound care.
– Ensure response preparedness by stocking response bags, fueling vehicles, and cleaning gear.
– Assist with releases of rehabilitation patients, public outreach events, and volunteer/cooperator trainings.
– Assist staff with daily administrative tasks, including answering hotline calls, data entry, and completing response paperwork.
– Complete other projects and tasks as assigned by VAQS staff.

– Must be at least 18 years old.
– Must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program, or have recently graduated (within last two years).
– Must be physically fit with the ability to lift 50lbs and walk long distances on the beach in adverse conditions such as extreme heat and cold, humidity, rain, and wind.
– Must be self-motivated, articulate, mature, reliable, and responsible. Should work well independently as well as with a team.
– Should be comfortable around dead and decomposing animals.
– Should be comfortable driving large pick-up trucks and vans (preferred). Willing to learn how to drive response vehicles, if accepted (required).
– Background in biology and familiarity with stranding response (preferred).
– Experience with DSLR cameras and Microsoft Access (preferred).

Position Requirements
– Attend VAQS orientation and City of Virginia Beach Defensive Driving.
– Possess a valid driver’s license.
– Pass a City of Virginia Beach background check.
– Wear a mask and comply with all organizational COVID-19 preventative measures.

Internship Learning Objectives
Develop fundamental hands-on stranding response and rehabilitation skills:
– Perform post-mortem examinations on sea turtle and marine mammals.
– Perform basic health assessments of rehabilitation patients, including vitals collection, wound treatment, administering medications, and blood processing.
– Complete Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network (STSSN) and Level A forms.
– Enter stranding data in Microsoft Access.

Intern Schedule
Intern is expected to be available 3-4 days per week, 8am-4:30pm. Weekend and holiday coverage is expected.

Minimum Commitment Required
24 hours per week for the duration of the internship.

Intern Supervisor/Mentor
VAQS Volunteer Manager and project supervisor.

Work Location
Virginia Aquarium’s Darden Marine Animal Conservation Center

Application Requirements
If applying via email, please send application to and copy A complete Stranding Response Intern packet must include the following components. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
– Cover letter including preferred focus area (necropsy or rehabilitation) and internship expectations. While we will do our best to accommodate intern preferences, staff will make the final focus area determination. There is some flexibility with internship start/end dates; please include any known schedule conflicts in your cover letter.
– Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center internship application form.
– Two letters of recommendation; one must be an academic reference. Letters can be sent separately to
– Resume
– College transcript(s)

For more information about the application process, please visit: