Marine Mammal Response and Husbandry Internship

The Marine Mammal Center advances global conservation through marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research, and education.


The ocean is in trouble. From the depletion of fish stocks to increasing ocean temperatures, human activity threatens marine ecosystems that are vital to the health of our ocean and all life on earth. As a critical first responder to these threats, The Marine Mammal Center is leading the field in ocean conservation through marine mammal rescue, veterinary medicine, science, and education. Marine mammals are ecosystem indicators, and these animals provide insights into human and ocean health threats. Together, we are taking action today to support a network of scientists and stewards to protect our shared ocean environment for future generations.

To advance our mission, we focus our work in three key program areas:

  1. Animal Care: With a volunteer force numbering more than 1,200 and the support of a concerned public, the Center is able to respond to marine mammals in distress. Sick and injured animals are treated and rehabilitated at our state-of-the-art veterinary facilities where we care for our patients until they can be released back to their ocean home. Covering a rescue range that spans 600 miles of California coastline and the Big Island of Hawai‘i, the Center responds to more stranded marine mammals than any other organization in the world. Our sought-after experts are deployed locally and internationally to provide technical veterinary expertise and training on best practices ranging from anesthesia to disentanglement.
  2. Scientific Research: The Center is a major contributor to the global body of research and knowledge about marine mammal medicine and health. Our veterinary experts develop new clinical techniques to improve marine mammal rehabilitation and care, and investigate the reasons why marine mammals strand and how these factors are connected to ecosystem and human health. Our scientists also investigate how marine mammals use and interact with their ocean environment to better understand and protect them from many threats. Learning from every animal we respond to and studying animals in the wild, our researchers identify novel diseases and pathogens, support endangered and threatened species conservation, identify and help mitigate human-caused threats and partner with scientists around the world on collaborative research that utilizes samples and data collected by the Center. Marine mammal health, ocean health and human health are inextricably linked, and our work advances knowledge of all three to benefit us all.
  3. Education: As a teaching hospital, the Center serves as a vital training ground for veterinary professionals from across the globe, expanding the collective understanding and application of marine veterinary science and conservation. Our innovative school and public education programs build a sense of responsibility through a connection to marine mammals and the marine environment, inspiring future ocean stewards and promoting action to protect the ocean. Each year, these education programs and hands-on trainings reach more than 100,000 children and adults, supporting the next generation of informed scientists and engaged citizens who will care for and ensure the health of our ocean and environment.


The Rescue and Response team at The Marine Mammal Center is seeking applicants for their San Luis Obispo Operations Rescue and Response Internship working primarily with stranded pinnipeds, as well as occasional cetaceans and sea otters. The Rescue and Response Internship is an exciting opportunity for individuals who are interested in increasing their experience and knowledge of marine mammals and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Program Opportunities:

  • Gain valuable professional development experience while learning the rescue and response operations for one of the world’s leading marine mammal hospitals
  • Work in an organization dedicated to veterinary medicine, research, and ocean conservation
  • Learn marine mammal rescue and triage while gaining husbandry experience working with the seal and sea lion patients
  • Attend training classes, learning more about rescue and response methods as well as the rehabilitation care for pinnipeds
  • Develop interpersonal and team leadership skills working with individuals from diverse backgrounds

Intern Responsibilities:

  • Answer and triage the animal rescue hotline
  • Coordinate rescue and triage responses throughout San Luis Obispo county
  • Participate in marine mammal rescues, releases and other field responses
  • Maintain rescue equipment
  • Join teams of volunteers to provide triage care for rescued seals and sea lions
  • Support data entry and tracking of the pinniped patients
  • Other projects as assigned

Intern Qualifications:

  • All applicants must be 21 years of age or older, with an avid interest in marine biology, zoology, ecology, environmental policy, conservation, or a related field.
  • Applicants from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds are encouraged to apply. The ability to speak a second language is a plus and enthusiasm for working collaboratively with diverse groups of people is essential.
  • Interns are required to pass a background check and a motor vehicle check prior to acceptance into the internship.
  • Applicants should demonstrate excellent communication skills and have practical computer knowledge with programs such as Word, Access, and Excel.
  • This internship position involves a fair amount of physical activity, such as lifting, restraining and moving animals.
  • The Center strives to make this internship accessible to applicants with a wide range of physical abilities. While some of our response and animal care activities require the ability to hike or lift, these are not all requirements of the internship. The ability to support logistical coordination and data entry from an office is the primary requirement. Interns will participate in other aspects of stranding response as ability, interest, needs, and animal care allow.
  • If the intern intends to receive university credit for their internship, they are responsible for making all arrangements with their educational institution.

Intern Schedule:
Interns must be able to work for a minimum of 4 months, at least 20 hours per week. Work schedule must be flexible and may include weekends and holidays. Applications are now open for Summer 2021 (June to August).

Additional Logistics:
This is an unpaid internship. Applicants are responsible for their own housing and transportation for the duration of the internship.

Learn more about The Marine Mammal Center and how to apply for this internship.

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