Marine Research Volunteer

As a marine biology research volunteer with Oceans Research, you will have the opportunity to work on long-term research projects and get up-close and personal with great white sharks, whales, dolphins, and other marine species.

What is the Field Research Volunteer Program and who can enroll in it?

Oceans Research Institute’s field research volunteer program provides a first-hand practical experience in marine research and conservation.

As a marine biology research volunteer with Oceans Research, you will have the opportunity to work on long-term research projects, such as the great white shark population assessment or habitat use of marine mammals.

During the volunteer program, our volunteers gain first-hand, practical experience with a diversity of field research, seamanship, and data analysis skills. For example, volunteers learn how to read white shark behavior and spot unique, identifying features on great white sharks for our long-term, population monitoring study. They also learn proper handling, measuring, and tagging techniques of several shark and fish species during our different fishing shifts. Volunteers learn to identify up to six different cetacean species, monitor behavior and track habitat use during our land-based cetacean surveys. Our intertidal, snorkel and marine litter surveys allow volunteers to practice different types of transect surveys, to understand why different survey types are more or less effective for different project aims. During all boat-based projects, our volunteers learn proper seamanship skills.

Volunteers staying more than one month also have the opportunity to pursue independent research projects that can go towards college or research credits at their home universities. They can either use pre-existing data from our long term datasets and/or can collect data during their fieldwork shifts. Depending on the length of their stay and their project aims, volunteers have an invaluable opportunity to practice all stages of independent research from project design to implementation to analysis.

When not in the field, our volunteers gain experience with data management, organization, gear maintenance, and data analysis. After every shift, volunteers practice data management by carefully entering and cleaning up the data collected from that previous shift. They learn how to analyze Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV), practicing species identification for species diversity and richness assessments.

Not only do our volunteers learn a diversity of skills that leave them well equipped to pursue a career in marine science, research, conservation and more, but they also take a variety of courses that expand their knowledge of local and current scientific topics, such as proper shark handling and tagging techniques, predator-prey ecology of great white sharks and Cape fur seals, shark stress physiology, marine mammal stranding and dissections, effective science communication, and more.

With 3-4 hour shifts, from Monday through Friday, our volunteers are either in the field, on the boat, underwater, in an aquarium or in the lab collecting data, observing wildlife, learning to scuba dive, analyzing footage, entering data and so much more.

Our volunteers arrive with a variety of backgrounds-some with years of experience and graduate degrees in marine science and some with no experience at all. Some know exactly what skills or experiences they want to have, and some just want to figure out if they even like marine science. Our mission here at ORI is to give you as much hands-on experience as possible to help you find and/or nurture your passion, be it research, sharks, limpets, photography, science communication or something else entirely, and to have you walk away feeling confident, knowledgeable and capable.

There are no specific criteria for the research volunteer program, anyone interested in marine research, conservation, and environmental awareness can apply for the Marine Field Research Program.

For more information about the program click here.

Apply Now Enquire Now

Keen to learn more? Join us on Facebook