Updated for 2020
As the job market becomes more competitive, now is more important than ever for college seniors to graduate with and new grads to possess the knowledge, skills, and practical experience to land a position in their chosen career path. Depending on your major, local internships can be difficult to come by – but the great news is if you’re up for adventure and want to explore the world, you can almost definitely find an amazing internship that will let you expand your skill sets and gain valuable experience abroad.
If you’ve chosen marine conservation or marine biology as your focus, there are lots of wonderful opportunities to make new connections through internships abroad. From PADI Divemaster internships in Fiji, to dolphin research in Greece, to sea turtle protection in Costa Rica, there are so many ways you can learn and work alongside researchers, scientists, conservationists, and other professionals in your field.
The programs highlighted here all offer hands-on internships for students and recent graduates to gain new skills, enhance their leadership abilities, and even pursue job opportunities onsite or with trusted partners worldwide. Read on to learn more and to get started with your marine conservation or marine biology internships overseas!
Dive right in with Projects Abroad and tackle a shark tagging program in Fiji, surveying the Belize Barrier Reef System, conserving sea turtles in Mexico, or collecting oceanographic data in the Gulf of Thailand.
Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel offers volunteer, intern, study, and teach abroad trips to Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. To date, 25,000 volunteers, interns, and teachers have traveled to Latin America with Maximo Nivel, which partners with local organizations on initiatives where you’ll learn, explore, and make a difference. Maximo Nivel’s internships are very affordable, starting from $1525 for a four-week practicum – this covers placement, housing, meals, and Spanish lessons. Internships through Maximo Nivel also are flexible, starting from one month with the option to stay as long as you would like, and with the option to earn university credit.
Based in Costa Rica and El Salvador, Maximo Nivel’s sea turtle conservation programs give you the chance to support local biologists and researchers who are managing sea turtle nesting grounds. A few tasks you can take on include patrolling beaches at night, tagging nesting turtles, relocating nests to hatcheries for protection, counting eggs and hatchlings, cleaning up the beach, and engaging in community outreach programs. This program last two weeks or longer, and you can expect to work five to six hours each day. Learn more and sign up here!
An award-winning volunteer abroad organization, Plan My Gap Year offers programs in 17 countries across Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Known for their transparent, safe, and immersive projects, PMGY has a wonderful reputation with volunteers, specifically because they’re very supportive and their projects deliver meaningful experiences.
For marine conservation, research, and biology internships abroad, Plan My Gap Year has plenty of high-quality, affordable options for you. PMGY partners with local communities to ensure they’re always working towards long-term sustainable goals. So, you know your work won’t just be boosting your resume; you’ll be making a big impact.
Sound like the organization for you? Check out some of Plan My Gap Year’s marine conservation and research programs.
Sea turtles face many risks off the coast of Sri Lanka, and they regularly turn up in fishing nets with severe injuries, such as lost limbs. For this project, you’ll be working with sea turtles on the beaches and at a rehabilitation center in the town of Ambalangoda. You’ll learn how to collect turtle eggs, identify different species, and how to carefully send turtles back to the sea. At the rehab center, you’ll clean tanks, feed the turtles, and clean turtles’ shells. At the beach, you’ll care for the nesting area, keeping it clean and ensuring hatchlings can safely head out to sea. You can also join in education efforts at local schools to raise awareness about sea turtle conservation. As you can see, this is truly an amazing project that has a real impact.
During free time, explore the local culture and relax on the beaches (they’re great in Ambalangoda!). Project fees begin at $549 for one week, with stays up to 24 weeks available. Interested to learn more? Read here.
Since 1997, Global Vision International (GVI) has provided volunteer programs and internships abroad for travelers who’d like to visit Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Pacific. GVI’s internship programs are excellent for students who wish to learn more about their degree program and career path, and include:
- GVI’s Leadership Training Course
- All necessary field training and equipment
- Weekly one-on-one staff mentoring sessions
- Professional recommendation
- Opportunity to work with GVI or selected partner organizations after successfully completing your internship
Right now, GVI is offering many different internships for those studying marine biology and conservation, with professional PADI dive training included on Divemaster Internships, Instructor Development Course (IDC) and Master Scuba Diver Trainer course (MSDT). Through GVI’s marine conservation internships, you’ll gain practical experience leading a specific ocean or marine life research project, comprehensive field training and evaluations, increased knowledge of the ocean’s ecosystem, experience in policy-making, and much more.
On GVI’s Marine Conservation and PADI Divemaster Internship, you’ll travel to the Lomaiviti Island Group of Fiji to work with local sustainable management initiatives and collect data that will help develop community-managed Marine Protected Areas. It can be difficult to find coral reef internships, so this is a unique opportunity. For the first 12 weeks of your internship, you’ll take on an extensive training program with a GVI research team, who will work with you to compile research on the coral reef and fish species while teaching you about the marine ecosystem. You’ll go on one or two dives or snorkeling expeditions each day, five days per week, where you will conduct underwater surveys, map coral reef and mangrove habitats, learn about identification techniques, and much more.
After that, you’ll complete a PADI Divemaster course over another three months while helping with daily operations of a local dive center. During your free time, you can take side trips to see dolphins at Moon Reef, stay at an island resort, and visit the capital city of Suva. Learn more and sign up here!
Marine conservation internships are filled with adventures, and this opportunity is no exception. With this internship, you’ll visit the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to contribute to local marine conservation projects. As an intern, you’ll start with an extensive training program to test and improve your diving skills and build your knowledge of the marine ecosystem. You also will work with a team to compile vital research on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, its fish species, and seasonal turtle nesting habits.
Each day, you can expect to work at a research dive site, take part in a training session at the base, help with community development work, or assist with beach cleanup or bird surveys followed by an evening debrief. Throughout your internship, you will be able to specialize either in fish or coral research techniques, where you’ll learn identification practices, how to take measurements underwater, and much more. During your free time, you can take side trips to go snorkeling, diving, hiking, or other adventure activities. Learn more and apply here!
On this internship, you will go scuba diving in the Indian Ocean while learning about and contributing to marine conservation efforts. During your stay, you will learn about professional survey techniques for underwater data collection on fish or coral – you will gain experience in taking underwater measurements, identifying different species, and much more. To round out your internship in the Seychelles, you will complete weekly assessments with a mentor and even take a leadership course to help you lead teams and support logistics in your career path. This internship lasts six to 12 weeks, and starts at $5,600 – learn more and apply here!
Another adventurous internship to check out through GVI brings you to Africa and Asia, where you will earn your PADI Divemaster certification and gain valuable career experience in marine conservation. For the first 12 weeks of your internship, you will stay at the GVI base in the Seychelles, where you will gain your Divemaster qualification and conduct underwater surveys, complete training sessions, assist with marine debris surveys and removal, and much more. After that, you will embark on a work placement off the coast of Thailand, where you can help run a dive center, including client relations, crewing on dive boats, and much more. This six-month internship costs $10,250 – learn more and register here!
Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad is a leading international volunteering organization offering volunteer and gap year programs, internships and research projects in more than 50 countries. Projects Abroad has provided more than 120,000 travelers with meaningful experiences worldwide. Cultural exchange is the mission of this organization, as it works across language, cultural, and geographic lines with some of the most vulnerable communities in the world. Through its sustainable projects, Project Abroad and its volunteers have a massive global impact on the economy each year.
Gain valuable marine conservation experience with endangered ecosystems and species on Projects Abroad’s Marine Conservation projects. You’ll work directly with conservationists and marine biologists who will guide you as you learn how to scuba dive, identify species, collect scientific data, and more. These programs provide the perfect balance between practical learning and actively making a difference.
Work on the frontlines of marine conservation by diving with bull sharks in Fiji. On this project, you’ll collect data on shark populations and habitats. You’ll add the data you collect to international databases, which governments and conservation groups use to inform conservation policies. You’ll also get to:
- Earn a PADI scuba diving certification
- Gain a specialized species identification certification
- Watch shark dissections
- Observe juvenile shark tagging
- Deploy BRUV equipment
This practical experience will add to your resume and set you apart if you’re looking to pursue a career in marine conservation. Learn more here!
Tackle sea turtle poaching by working with experts at a wildlife conservation center on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. During night patrols, you’ll learn to spot newly laid turtle nests. You’ll collect the eggs and move them to safe corrals, protecting them from poachers. Once the eggs hatch, you’ll release the hatchlings on the beach and watch as they scuttle down to the ocean. You’ll also:
- Study the biodiversity of the surrounding coastal ecosystems
- Help with environmental education in nearby communities
- Learn from conservation experts
- Support staff at a crocodile park
- Clean and maintain turtle tanks
You’ll gain research experience and practical skills, perfect for if you’re looking to pursue a career in marine and coastal ecosystem conservation. Click here to read more.
GoEco began in 2006 with a focus on environmental, wildlife, and community initiatives. To date, GoEco has placed more than 17,000 volunteers in programs abroad. Because of their great work, they’ve earned numerous recognitions, including the 2018 Top Volunteer Abroad Organization from GoAbroad. They’ve also been featured in publications like The Guardian and The Boston Globe.
If you’re looking for high-quality marine conservation internships abroad, put GoEco’s programs at the top of your list. They have opportunities around the globe.
Intern on a tropical Fijian island! During the program, you’ll collect data through underwater research dives. That data helps experts develop coral reef restoration plans and figure out how to protect vulnerable marine species. If you don’t yet have a diving certification, you’ll take training to obtain your PADI Open Water certification during week one and PADI Advanced Open Water certification during week two. In addition to diving for marine research, you’ll educate local children about environmental conservation and help the community better manage natural resources.
What’s great is that the location of your marine conservation internship: Fiji! During free time, you can enjoy life on Caqalai Island. Imagine yourself relaxing on the white sand beaches and hiking through the gorgeous jungle. Interested? Internship fees begin at $3,750 for four weeks ($7,080 for 12 weeks). Learn more here!
Is the sparkling Caribbean Sea calling your name? During this diving and marine research expedition in Mexico, you’ll explore the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world’s second-largest reef system. If needed, you’ll spend the first two weeks in diving classes and earn PADI Open Water and PADI Advanced Open Water certifications. During your dives, you’ll monitor the health of the coral reefs, assist with seagrass monitoring and mapping, collect data on fish and sea turtles, and note any lionfish you see (an invasive species). You’ll also participate in weekly beach cleans, turtle nesting area protection efforts, and outreach work in schools and the community to boost conservation awareness.
When you’re not doing intern work, take it easy in the peaceful village of Puerto Morelos. The beaches here are world-class! Internship fees begin from $3,390 for four weeks ($6,580 for 12 weeks). Get more details here!
Another resource you should check out for marine conservation, research, and biology internships abroad is Volunteer Forever’s new booking platform, Abroadly, which streamlines the process of finding and applying for programs overseas. Searching based on your background, skills, and preferences, you can discover a suitable program in minutes.
Marine conservation and research internships on Abroadly’s site have been carefully vetted by Volunteer Forever for quality, safety, and commitment to making an impact. Whether you want to research dolphins in Fiji or manage turtle nesting grounds in Greece, you can rest assured that all programs listed are reputable and trustworthy.
So, if you find a marine conservation program you like on Abroadly, apply! If you don’t get accepted, the application fee will be 100% refunded. By applying on Abroadly, you’ll get the chance to win a $500 scholarship, in addition to free access to Volunteer Forever’s crowdfunding platform.
Offered by Khaya Volunteer Projects, this program takes you to Port Elizabeth, near where roughly 21,000 of the remaining 25,000 African penguins reside. Needless to say, your impact in preserving this precious (and cute!) animal will be felt immediately during the project. You’ll be helping out at the South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre. You’ll teach visitors about penguin conservation, clean facilities, feed penguins, prepare medication, and more. When you’re not busy saving penguins, relax at the comfortable volunteer house, enjoy the beach, and check out local dining and shopping.
The program fee starts at $1,385 for four weeks, with stays up to eight weeks available. Learn more here!
Offered by Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers, this program takes you to Cairns, Australia, where you’ll be tasked with helping preserve the world’s largest living structure: the Great Barrier Reef. During the project, you’ll learn to dive and get PADI certified (if you’re not already). Once you’re ready to explore the underwaters, you’ll dive down and see one of the greatest natural wonders up close. You’ll be assisting the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s monitoring program, Eye on the Reef. You’ll learn to identify local fish species, test water quality, make observations about the reef’s general health, and more. You can also help with nearby beach cleanup when you’re not diving.
The program fee starts at $2,280 for one week, with stays up to two weeks available. Learn more here!
Offered by Plan My Gap Year, this program takes you to gorgeous Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, where you’ll take part in a variety of activities to preserve the local natural environment, from alien vegetation removal and beach cleanups to identifying marine species and shark egg case collection. Community outreach and education is also an important part of the project. When you’re not working, you can hang out at the volunteer house or explore local shops and restaurants, which are literally steps away.
The program starts at $774 for one week, with stays up to 12 weeks available. Learn more here!
Since 2007, A Broader View has offered volunteer programs and internships worldwide for students, groups, and solo travelers. To date, this charity has donated more than $3 million to their overseas partners to enhance community building and sustainable development initiatives, which are made possible through assistance from volunteers and interns working alongside local team members. Right now, A Broader View is offering one marine conservation internship, which invites you to work with sea turtles in Costa Rica.
On this sea turtle conservation internship, you will be able to work with other volunteers and local team members to develop and improve investigation projects and assist with conservation of areas of biological importance in Costa Rica. Through A Broader View’s beach investigation program, you will help with efforts to protect sea turtle nests, develop information leading to proper planning of tourist activities, and much more. A few tasks you’ll take on during your internship in Costa Rica include:
- Collecting data on beaches related to sea turtle monitoring
- Releasing baby sea turtles into the ocean
- Helping volunteers with their work in harvesting, replanting, removal, and monitoring and surveillance of nests
- Recording and reviewing project information
This internship lasts 12 weeks, and is open year-round. You’ll stay onsite with fellow interns and researchers in a beach cabana, with three meals provided each day. Click here to learn more and to apply!
The Intern Group offers professional development placements in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Founded in 2011, this award-winning social enterprise works with students and other individuals to develop customized internships with renowned NGOs and more than 1,000 leading employers globally. With more than 30,000 applications received each year, the Intern Group selects top applicants from 600 different universities. It’s been featured in Forbes, TIME, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and CNN, and is generous with discounts for alumni travelers, as well as students receiving financial aid. Benefits include assistance with visas, developmental workshops, career training, social and cultural events, quality housing, and in-country support.
Focus on your passion for marine conservation with an environmental sciences and sustainability internship. When you choose a placement with the Intern Group, you can work with important NGOs like Earthwatch, and spend your time helping scientists to collect data, conduct field research, connect with nature on an expedition, or become an ambassador for sustainability. Gain hands-on experience in the field on science-focused research, or through assisting the administrative efforts of an NGO that works for wildlife preservation, environmental engineering, eco-business, or science. Choose from a variety of destinations, or use this opportunity to learn more about the United States’ West Coast and the Pacific Ocean with an internship in California. Fees for this placement are $7,500 for eight weeks, with stays available up to six months. Read more and apply here!
Located along the Yellow Sea, Shanghai offers comprehensive professional development and immersion into the Chinese culture. Choose a science placement with the Intern Group here and you’ll gain invaluable work experience in one of the most important cities of all China, guaranteeing you important global connections. Learn from leading researchers, engineers, and academics, and choose to focus on biomedicine, biotechnology, or marine conservation. While in Shanghai, you’ll be escorted on a guided day tour of Suzhou and Tongli, an ancient water town known for its picturesque canals, bridges, and UNESCO World Heritage gardens. You’ll also take in the acrobatic show of a traditional kung fu performance, and enjoy a Chinese cooking class. Spend four weeks or more with placement fees starting at $4,120. Read more here and apply today!
Learn how to influence others and affect conservation policy when you accept an internship in government and politics in Spain. Travel to Barcelona and conduct research for a leading political party, and help direct change to benefit the wellbeing of the planet. Once the world’s most important seafaring community, Spain is nearly surrounded by water, with the exception of its border with France, and marine conservation is of utmost importance to the country. Work with professionals in partner organizations that will take your knowledge beyond the classroom and learn the skills necessary to excel in your future career. Your internship in Barcelona includes a spectacular night tour of Antoni Gaudi’s La Pedrera, a multi-sensory, multimedia event. You’ll also enjoy a day trip to the Dali Museum in medieval Girona. Program fees start at $4,648 for six weeks, with stays up to six months. Learn more here and start your application today!
Combine a career in public relations and conservation when you choose to work on an international marketing internship in the wildlife mecca of Australia. Join the Intern Group and deepen your understanding of PR topics such as environmental threats to the Great Barrier Reef, and how B2B marketing can help with trends towards conservation. This is just one of many topics you could pursue when you work in the field to generate interest in an individual cause, company, or product. Learn how to write press releases, contact media outlets, represent clients at events, and more. During free time, take a walking tour of the city, and check out the 360-degree view at the Eureka SkyDeck, Melbourne’s tallest building. Take in a major sporting event, such as the Australian Open Tennis, or a Formula One Racing event. Learn how to scuba dive while you’re in the coastal capital of Victoria. You’re invited to stay six weeks or longer and program fees begin at $4,617. Click here to sign up today!
If you’re looking for marine conservation and biology internships abroad, chances are you want a unique, impactful, and challenging program. Fronteering offers you just that with plenty of their marine biology projects throughout the world. Known for their commitment to preserving natural environments and keeping unspoiled locations free from human destruction, Fronteering has made a point to develop numerous great marine conservation projects. What’s also nice is that they’re committed to affordability, which makes it possible for even more people to help out in their mission.
Venture to Bunbury to swim with the dolphins! In addition to having fun interacting with one of the world’s most intelligent creatures, you’ll help with the conservation, education, and research of the bottlenose dolphins. You’ll also assist with eco-tourism activities. Typical tasks include educating tourists about bottlenose dolphins, maintaining aquariums, monitoring dolphin activity, and recording data. Your work goes a long way into building a sustainable future for the dolphins.
When you’re not busy helping these precious dolphins, explore the region, which includes sites like Ngilgi Cave and Tuart Forest National Park. Interested in the internship? Fees begin at $1,495 for six weeks, with stays up to 12 weeks available. Get more info here.
Visit the world’s largest wetland in Southern Brazil’s Pantanal, an area home to one of the highest concentrations and diversities of flora and fauna. The program, which is designed to support the development of sustainable tourism in the region, takes you to one of the last real frontiers on earth. As you train to be a guide for the Pantanal, you’ll learn all about the area’s ecosystem and get involved in tasks like mammals tracking, bird identification, and astrology and geology. You’ll even get the chance the guide guests yourself after you’ve gotten to know the Pantanal well enough.
In short, this is an incredible program that combines biology research with tourism work. You’ll even have the opportunity to learn Portuguese during your stay. Interested in this volunteer opportunity? Fees begin at $2,495 for four weeks, with stays up to 16 weeks available. Get more info here.
This is probably one of the most exciting marine biology internships: if you want the thrill of a lifetime during your marine research internship, get closer than you’ve ever been to the great white shark. For this internship, you’ll work in a small coastal town, diving to research the great whites and understand more about the challenges these amazing creatures face. While in the shark cage diving vessel, you’ll assist with gathering important data, which will be used to formulate insights and strategies for how to protect great white sharks. You’ll learn how to tag and take genetic samples and even practice ethical handling and angling techniques for small sharks.
When you’re not on the water, you’ll help with hosting community outreach workshops designed to educate people about great white sharks and the importance of conservation initiatives. You’ll also have plenty of time to enjoy the beach and local culture. Soak up the sun! Interested in this volunteer internship? Fees begin at $1,750 for one week, with stays up to four weeks available. Get more info here.
Since 1989, Frontier has combined community development, capacity building, ecosystem protection, economic growth, and the development of civil society through collaboration between local communities, researchers, and volunteers and interns. From their first program in Tanzania – a marine park developed in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund – Frontier has expanded to offer over 400 projects in more than 60 countries. This nonprofit organization prides itself on innovations in developing quality volunteer programs and internships worldwide, and right now is offering nearly different 60 intern placements throughout Latin America, the Pacific, Asia, Europe, and Africa.
On this internship, you will visit Costa Rica and contribute to vital research and conservation work that aims to understand and combat the effects of climate change in this gorgeous Latin American region. Based on the pacific side of the country, you will live and work with other staff, interns, and volunteers at a research camp while helping to carry out surveys to learn how global warming is affecting endangered species and threatened habitats. Among other projects, you will be able to assist with sea turtle monitoring and research, which can include:
- Patrolling beaches to gather information about sea turtle populations and to deter poachers and predators
- Conducting nest cleanings
- Recording clutch size as well as numbers of successfully and unsuccessfully hatched eggs
- Helping to free hatchlings into the sea
As an intern, you also will help out with additional projects such as recording data on jungle species – such as big cats, primates, and amphibians – and other work that will help with important conservation efforts. During your free time, you’ll have the chance to go white water rafting, kayaking, hiking, snorkelling, and much more. Click here to apply!
Another excellent marine conservation internship you can sign up for right now with Frontier brings you to Madagascar, where you’ll chart extensive coral areas, record healthy coral and fish populations, learn to identify marine animals, and much more. Through your work, you’ll help to supply important information about island country’s coastline to enable sustainable natural resource management and protection of endangered areas within the region. Each day, you can expect to go on diving and snorkel surveys, mangrove searches, beach cleanups, and much more to record information about live coral cover and the communities existing on them. You also will be able to take on additional responsibilities such as training volunteers, assessing volunteer work to ensure quality of data collection, and other tasks to help boost your marine conservation and research experience. Learn more and apply here!
Since 2009, Global Nomadic has provided volunteer and intern abroad placements for travelers who want to expand their education and get a head start on their career overseas. Global Nomadic works in partnerships with community-based organizations to effect worthwhile, positive change through the assistance of volunteers and interns like you. To date, more than 1,000 interns, volunteers, and TEFL travelers have embarked on Global Nomadic’s programs worldwide, which range from human rights, to environmental conservation, to wildlife protection and beyond.
Based in Alonissos, Greece, Global Nomadic’s dolphin research internship is a great way to learn about marine conservation while gaining practical experience in your field. As an intern, you’ll work aboard a research vessel alongside marine scientists to monitor dolphin populations and areas of importance, develop a photo catalogue of common and bottlenose dolphins, analyze their movements and social organization, and much more. Throughout your stay, you will have the opportunity to learn about cetacean behavior and identification, threats faced by marine animals, photo-identification techniques, how to use research data for conservation activities, and many other skills. Learn more and sign up here!
Another of Global Nomadic’s many different internships abroad is their marine conservation program in the Philippines, which gives you the chance to work alongside international NGOs, experienced scientists, and marine biologists. On this program, you will coordinate with the Green Fins conservation project, which supports scuba and snorkeling industries in implementing environmental standards to protect coral reefs. As an intern, you will help to carry out important conservation policies and projects, with tasks that may include:
- Conducting environmental consultations and impact assessments
- Developing education and outreach programs in local communities and schools
- Supporting national and local governments to meet international conservation commitments
- Establishing reef surveys
- Helping with beach and reef cleanup
Throughout your stay, you will take a two-week training program, followed by a six-week experience placement, with staff support and mentoring along the way. You also will have a personal assignment as part of your internship tailored specifically to your skill set, individual strengths, and interests, which will go a long way to helping you find the best career placement possible upon successful completion of your program abroad. Learn more and apply here!
Ready to Travel?
If you’re ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime – one that will help you kickstart your career while meeting amazing new people and exploring and protecting our oceans – we’re here to help! Click here to create a profile on Volunteer Forever and begin fundraising for your internship overseas – and if you’re looking for more inspiration, check out these articles:
2017 Best Internships Abroad: Medical Care, Marine Biology & More
Summer Abroad Internships for Students
Wildlife, Marine Animal & Veterinary Conservation Volunteer Abroad