IMS Volunteer and Internship Opportunities

All jobs listed are non-paid positions unless otherwise specified. If you are interested in one of the positions, please contact the person listed, or click on the link associated with the position for futher information.

The Munch lab is looking for interns evaluate the effects of climate change in fishes.  We are conducting a multi-generation experiment on the effects of increasing temperature on on growth and maturation.  Our experiment is in its 5th generation and will continue until June 2017. We are looking for people to assist with daily fish care, water quality monitoring, and photographic measurements of the experimental populations. Most of the work occurs between 8 and 11am M-F.  We are most interested in people who can participate 2-3 days per week. Some experience keeping fish is preferred, but not required.

Please contact Steve Munch, with the subject ‘Internship Application: {your name}’ with the following information: your year, prior experience (if any) and availability.


Description: Depending on time of year, participate as a volunteer or intern at a marine science interpretive center. Positions vary from classroom teaching, to visitor hall interpretation, to science program planning, to animal husbandry. See for more information about becoming a volunteer, or for more information about internships.

Date: Year-round

Location: Seymour Center at Long Marine Lab




Under the direction of Dr. Terrie Williams, the Marine Mammal Physiology Project works with a variety of animals trained to voluntarily participate in the data collection process investigating the energetics, physiological, and biomechanical parameters of numerous species of marine mammals. In order to accomplish all the goals of the project, a large volunteer staff is employed to help care for and train these amazing animals. For additional information, and for application instructions, please visit



The Pinniped Cognition & Sensory Systems lab (located at LML) is always in need of support for their research programs. If you are interested in volunteering or interning, please follow this link: Volunteer & Internship



Description: The southern sea otter population (Enhydra lutris nereis) is on the rebound from near extirpation from the Pacific fur trade of the 18th and 19th centuries. From a raft of less than 50 individuals found off the coast of Big Sur in 1938, targeted conservation efforts have aided in the recovery of the species to greater than 2,700 individuals today. 

Currently listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act, proper conservation and management of this population requires reliable information on current and potential future trends in abundance and distribution, data on patterns and causes of mortality, and analyses of the demographic drivers of population change. The cooperative unit of US Geological Survey and UC Santa Cruz along with other collaborators in California has established a long-term research program to obtain that information.

Radio telemetry-based population studies are ongoing in the Monterey Bay area, including Elkhorn Slough. In study areas, sea otters are captured, bio-sampled, instrumented with VHF transmitters and archival time-depth recorders, and then released to be monitored for the subsequent 3 year period. Data are collected on age-specific survival, reproduction, individual health, contaminant exposure, disease incidence, diet and feeding behavior, activity budgets, individual movements and habitat use. By contrasting data collected among various sub-populations inferences can be made about the relationships between near-shore water quality, chemical/pathogen pollution, and sea otter population health and ecological community structures.

To apply for this and other internships with the Estes and Tinker Lab go to Interns & Volunteers for more information.

Possible Intern Duties:
Sea otter monitoring

  • The intern will regularly cover the study area, by vehicle and on foot, in order to gather resights of all tagged and instrumented otters: the primary purpose of this procedure is to monitor the survival, reproductive status and movement of radio-tagged sea otters (study animals).  A resight will consist of determining an otter’s location by triangulation from the transmitter signal and, if possible, by making visual confirmation. Radio instrumented otters are located using programmable scanning receivers, and visually identified using binoculars and high powered spotting scopes.  When a study animal is located, the technician will record its geo-location (obtained using GPS and laser rangefinders) as well as environmental, demographic and behavioral parameters into a GIS-enabled database on a handheld computer.

Activity Budget Data Collection

  • The intern will collect data on activity time budgets of study animals by directly observing tagged individuals or inferring activity based on a study animal’s radio signal. During these 8-hour sessions, data are recorded at 10 minute intervals on behavior and geo-location, as well as environmental variables, and entered into a GIS-enabled database on a handheld computer. 

Foraging Data Collection

  • The intern will collect data on diet and foraging behavior by direct observation of feeding otters.  In this procedure, the study animal is located (as described above) and observed using a high-powered spotting scope (at 30x - 80x magnification).  The data to be collected include the duration of each dive and subsequent surface time; whether or not the dive was successful; prey type; number and size of prey items caught; prey handling time, and various other information. 

Data Entry & Analysis

  • The intern will receive, compile, and enter various types of data while employing stringent quality assurance and control practices. Data may be in the form of re-sights, census surveys, activity budgets, observed foraging bouts, or time-depth recording instruments from populations both in California or Alaska. If there is both interest and demonstrated ability, the intern may have the opportunity to perform data summaries or analysis to be used in project reporting or publication.  

Prerequisites:Interns must be able to commit to a minimum 2-quarter or 6 month internship

  • Interns must be available for 12+ hours a week (in shifts of at least 4 hours)
  • Interns must possess a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record. Vehicles will be provided to and from field site when available, approved mileage on personal vehicles will be reimbursed at $0.55/mile
  • Interns must demonstrate strong attention to detail as well as excellent organizational/record-keeping skills
  • Interns must have the ability to conduct strenuous outdoor fieldwork in a variety of environmental/weather conditions
  • Interns must work well independently as well as part of a team
  • A strong understanding of ecology or upper-division coursework in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology or Environmental Studies is preferred
  • Previous fieldwork experience including the use of GPS, binoculars, spotting scopes, and/or handheld computers preferred
  • Ideal candidates are highly interested and motivated to perform ecological research; Senior thesis/capstone projects are encouraged and available.    

To apply for this and other internships with the Estes and Tinker Lab go to Interns & Volunteers for more information.