Marine Conservation, Research, and Biology Internships Abroad

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Updated for 2024

As the job market becomes more competitive, now is more important than ever for college seniors to graduate 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 and coral restoration protection in Costa Rica, there are so many ways you can learn and work alongside researchers, scientists, conservationists, and other professionals in your field.

Intern Abroad HQ is actively recruiting marine biology and conservation interns for 2024 and 2025. Learn more and apply here to jump-start your career!

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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, diving and reef protection in Thailand, conserving sea turtles in Mexico, or studying whales in Argentina. If your heart is set on Africa, then definitely check out African Impact’s marine conservation programs in Mozambique and Zanzibar.

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Maximo Nivel

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, and 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.

Sea Turtle Conservation

Based in Costa Rica, 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 lasts two weeks or longer, and you can expect to work five to six hours each day. Learn more and sign up here!

Intern Abroad HQ

Intern Abroad HQ began in 2007, a division of IVHQ, and has 240 internships across 24 fields of interest. A trusted name for internships abroad, Intern HQ promotes cross-cultural competency, while allowing interns to develop themselves professionally. They’re absolutely a great choice if you’re looking for marine conservation internships abroad. 

Aegean Marine Conservation

This is one of the best marine biology internships because the Aegean Sea has incredible biodiversity. A coastline stretching more than 18,000 kilometers and large-scale fishing operations make preserving the area difficult, and that’s why your help as an intern can have such a big impact.

Designed for those who have completed at least a year of college/university study in the fields of marine, environmental, or related sciences, your main role for this internship is to collect and analyze data on fish, invertebrates, and marine flora. This data is meant to provide more detailed insights into local ecosystem conditions and changes, as well as any threats to sea health. The information you obtain is used in research papers and other content that has a direct influence on marine conservation strategies. To gather that data, you’ll be snorkeling, free-diving, and/or kayaking. For example, you may kayak around to map seagrass meadows. How exciting does that sound?

During free time, you’re free to enjoy the beauty of the Aegean Sea. You can intern for up to 24 weeks. Interested to learn more? Read here.

Marine Biology & Reef Conservation Internships in Sodwana Bay

If you are passionate about marine conservation and diving, the Marine Biology & Reef Conservation Internship in Sodwana Bay is the perfect opportunity for you. Located in South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, this program offers hands-on experience in one of the world’s prime marine habitats. Interns engage in scuba diving, marine ecology training, and conservation efforts amidst stunning coral reefs teeming with turtles, whales, and manta rays. 

The program includes accommodation and meals, with options to start every Monday for durations ranging from two to twelve weeks. Interns will gain PADI qualifications, if not already certified, and work closely with marine research camps to conduct underwater surveys, species photography, and data entry. This internship provides a comprehensive understanding of marine conservation, suitable for students and recent graduates interested in careers such as environmental scientists, marine oceanographers, and eco-tourism guides. It also includes the chance to explore local wildlife through safari trips, making it ideal for nature enthusiasts.

NGO Support for Marine Conservation – Remote Internship

Gain real-world experience and enhance your resume by supporting marine conservation efforts from the comfort of your home with the NGO Support for Marine Conservation internship. Based in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, this remote internship allows you to collaborate with a dedicated marine conservation NGO. As an intern, you will engage in content creation, awareness campaigns, environmental education projects, and research, contributing to the preservation of vital ecosystems. 

The program offers flexibility in duration and hours, with start dates available year-round. It is suitable for English speakers with at least one year of relevant college or university study, or high school students aged 16+ with a strong application. Interns gain mentorship from experienced conservationists, participate in sustainable development initiatives, and develop skills in online relationship-building and professional conservation practices. This internship offers a unique opportunity to make a meaningful impact on marine conservation while gaining valuable experience in content creation, market research, and NGO development strategies.

Intern Abroad HQ’s sister organization, International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) also offers several marine conservation volunteer programs.  

GoEco

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. 

Fiji – Diving and Marine Conservation Internship

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 the location of your marine conservation internship: it’s Fiji! During your free time, you can enjoy life on Caqalai Island. Imagine yourself relaxing on the white sand beaches and hiking through the gorgeous jungle. Interested? Learn more here!

Australia – Great Barrier Reef Conservation

Join GoEco’s Great Barrier Reef Conservation program to help restore and preserve the world’s largest coral reef system while protecting its diverse marine species. This 12-day program offers volunteers the chance to become PADI Open Water or Advanced Open Water certified, providing an in-depth exploration of over 3,000 reefs and 900 islands. Volunteers will work alongside marine experts and Master Reef Guides, participating in coral watch surveys, monitoring, and data collection. 

The program includes a liveaboard dive adventure, visits to a turtle rehabilitation center, and on-land conservation projects, culminating in a comprehensive marine conservation experience. Suitable for both certified and non-certified divers, this program provides essential dive equipment, accommodations in shared hostels and boats, and meals as outlined. Volunteers must be physically fit, able to complete a PADI medical form, and prepared to engage in various conservation activities both underwater and on land, ensuring a meaningful contribution to the Great Barrier Reef’s preservation.

Costa Rica – Sea Turtle Protection & Eco-Oasis

Immerse yourself in sea turtle conservation on the pristine beaches of Costa Rica with GoEco’s Sea Turtle Protection & Eco-Oasis program. Located on the Osa Peninsula, this community-driven initiative protects 8km of vital sea turtle nesting beach, registering over 7,000 nests per season. Volunteers engage in beach patrols, nest relocation, building hatcheries, and assisting hatchlings, contributing significantly to turtle conservation and community development. 

The program requires a minimum 10-day commitment and includes airport transfers, accommodations in rustic dormitory-style cabins, and three daily meals. Enjoy a Complimentary 3rd Week – Register for two or more weeks and receive the 3rd week at no cost!

Volunteers also participate in permaculture projects, aiming for a zero-waste operation and sustainable living. Tasks vary from turtle patrols and data recording to community outreach and environmental education. Suitable for those with enthusiasm and a willingness to work hard, this program offers a hands-on learning experience in one of Central America’s most remote and beautiful destinations, fostering both personal growth and substantial conservation impact.

The following programs will also enjoy GoEco’s Free 3rd Week Grant – Get the 3rd week free when you sign up for two weeks or more:

Projects Abroad

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.

Dive with Sharks in Fiji

Work on the frontlines of marine conservation by diving with bull sharks in Fiji. In 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:

  1. Earn a PADI scuba diving certification
  2. Gain a specialized species identification certification
  3. Watch shark dissections
  4. Observe juvenile shark tagging
  5. 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!

Protect Endangered Sea Turtles in Mexico

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:

  1. Study the biodiversity of the surrounding coastal ecosystems
  2. Help with environmental education in nearby communities
  3. Learn from conservation experts
  4. Support staff at a crocodile park
  5. Clean and maintain turtle tanks

You’ll gain research experience and practical skills, perfect if you’re looking to pursue a career in marine and coastal ecosystem conservation. Click here to read more.

Whale and Puma Conservation in Patagonia, Argentina

Embark on a unique adventure with the Whale and Puma Conservation project in Patagonia, Argentina. Based in the stunning “La Esperanza” wildlife refuge, you’ll work alongside experienced environmentalists to monitor and conserve local species, including whales, pumas, and guanacos. This hands-on experience includes participating in seasonal censuses of sea lions and southern right whales, tracking pumas using camera traps, and studying guanaco populations. 

You’ll also learn native land cultivation and eco-friendly building techniques, and immerse yourself in Patagonian culture by cooking regional dishes. Ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and aspiring conservationists, this program offers invaluable experience and a chance to contribute to vital conservation efforts while exploring one of the world’s most fascinating ecosystems. 

African Impact

African Impact is a responsible, sustainable volunteer travel organization that has won multiple industry awards, including being voted the world’s Top Volunteer Abroad Organization by volunteers on GoAbroad four years in a row. Since 2004, they have hosted over 35,000 participants on 20 projects across 7 countries. The organization believes in the spirit of Africa and that the volunteer experience is just as important as the impact made. It is also recognized as a trusted specialist in volunteering and interning in Southern Africa. African Impact offers internships, as well as group, family, and high school projects. The minimum age requirement for their projects is 16, making African Impact a great option for teen and high school volunteers. 

African Impact manages own its projects and can provide tangible, real achievements regularly. The organization has a clear Child Protection Policy and ensures that volunteers complete a criminal record check before involvement. Experienced staff is on the ground to support volunteers day-in-day-out and the organization does not use volunteer support in replacement for a local person.

In addition to making a positive impact, African Impact also believes that volunteering abroad should be enjoyable. The organization offers a range of activities for volunteers, including teaching children in South Africa, assisting with wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe, working in hospitals or clinics in Kenya, and carrying out dolphin and marine research in Zanzibar.

Volunteering with African Impact allows individuals to gain new skills, knowledge, and practical work experience, while also making a lasting impact on local communities and conservation efforts. The organization believes that volunteering in Africa helps to change perceptions and stereotypes about Africa and its people while providing local communities with an exchange of culture, mindsets, and ideas.

Explore their Marine Conservation programs below: 

Dolphin and Marine Conservation Project 

Volunteer in Zanzibar on African Impact’s Dolphin and Marine Conservation Project and make a real difference in the sustainability of dolphin tourism. As a volunteer, you will monitor human-dolphin interactions, promote ethical dolphin tours, and contribute to the conservation of marine life in the area. This project is ideal for those passionate about marine conservation and the environment. In your free time, you can explore the beautiful coastlines and vibrant culture of Zanzibar. You will live in a private volunteer house near the coastal village of Kizimkazi and work with local communities and organizations to protect the marine ecosystem. This is a unique opportunity to make a lasting impact while enjoying a truly amazing location.

Humpback Whale Research & Marine Protection in Mozambique

There are several reasons why volunteering on the humpback whale research project in Mozambique could be a rewarding and meaningful experience. First, you’ll have the opportunity to contribute to important conservation efforts and help protect these majestic creatures. Humpback whales are an integral part of the marine ecosystem, and gathering data on their behaviors, distribution, and abundance can help inform efforts to preserve their habitat and ensure their long-term survival. 

Second, you’ll have the chance to learn from and engage with world-leading conservationists and researchers, and to gain valuable skills and knowledge in the field of marine biology and conservation. You’ll participate in boat-based research expeditions and have the opportunity to collect data and record whale songs, as well as track the sex, age, and behavior of the whales. Third, you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in the local culture and make a positive impact on the community by teaching young Mozambicans about the importance of understanding and caring for their marine environment. Finally, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the beauty and wonder of the Southern Mozambique coast, with its stunning beaches and vibrant marine life. You’ll have the chance to relax and enjoy the daily sunset show, learn to surf, and explore the coast during your free time. All of these factors make volunteering on this project a truly unique and fulfilling experience.

Shark Conservation Volunteering in South Africa

Join the Shark Conservation Volunteering program in Gansbaai, South Africa, and make a significant impact on marine conservation efforts. Located just two hours from Cape Town, you’ll assist with research and data tracking of great white sharks and other marine species. Work alongside marine biologists and ecotourism leaders, participating in tagging and tracking, behavioral surveys, and environmental monitoring. Gain hands-on experience in shark cage diving, whale watching, and African penguin conservation. 

Accommodation is at the International Marine Volunteer Centre, with shared cottages and a central kitchen. The program fee includes all meals, airport transfers, project-related transport, and activities. Ideal for marine enthusiasts, this program offers invaluable skills and experiences to boost your career in marine conservation. 

Involvement Volunteers International (IVI)

Established in 1989, Involvement Volunteers International (IVI) has pioneered overseas volunteer experiences with a mission to educate, fight poverty, improve health, and empower change through sustainable efforts in developing communities. As a non-profit organization, IVI is dedicated to creating lasting, impactful contributions by focusing on projects with genuine needs and maintaining a strong commitment to ethical and long-term goals. With over 35 years of experience, IVI has built a trusted network of partners and offers more than 100 projects in 20 countries, providing flexible start dates and affordable placements. Volunteers benefit from 24/7 in-country support and secure, clean accommodation, ensuring their safety and well-being.

Choosing IVI means engaging in meaningful projects that make a real difference, and IVI volunteers gain valuable skills and contribute to significant, positive change in communities worldwide.

Mangrove Environmental Conservation Program in Cambodia

Located in Kampot, Cambodia, IVI’s Mangrove Environmental Conservation program focuses on reversing the severe deforestation affecting the region’s coastal ecosystems. Volunteers engage in planting mangrove seedlings, removing invasive species, and assisting local workers in restoring existing mangroves. 

Additionally, they educate the younger generation on environmental conservation and English, collect data on terrain and tree health, and conduct fish catch surveys. Participants stay in traditional riverside bungalows, offering a basic yet authentic Cambodian experience, with meals provided that feature local cuisine. The project fosters community involvement through outreach activities, providing a supportive team environment with comprehensive training from subject matter experts.

Turtle Conservation Program in Bali

IVI’s Turtle Conservation program on Nusa Penida Island, Indonesia, aims to protect endangered sea turtles through direct care and community education. Volunteers clean turtle tanks, feed turtles, maintain the center, collect population statistics, identify species, monitor nests, and participate in beach cleaning and crab collecting. They also assist local schools with English teaching and environmental education. 

Participants stay in a dedicated volunteer house with shared rooms, hot showers, and basic amenities, enjoying meals provided on weekdays. The island’s natural beauty offers opportunities for diving, snorkeling, and exploring local attractions. The program emphasizes hands-on conservation work and cultural immersion, raising environmental awareness in local communities.

Environmental Conservation in the Galapagos Islands

IVI’s Environmental Conservation program on San Cristobal Island, Ecuador, is dedicated to reforestation, sustainable agriculture, and community support. Volunteers engage in seed collection and preparation, reforestation of endemic and native plants, assisting veterinarians, construction tasks, and organic gardening. They also participate in community initiatives, educational outreach, fence maintenance, animal feeding, and cheese making. 

Volunteers stay in a house with shared rooms and basic amenities, preparing their own meals in a communal kitchen. The project offers a rural setting with opportunities to explore the island’s unique ecosystems and natural beauty. The program emphasizes collaboration with local families and communities, contributing to sustainable agricultural initiatives and environmental conservation efforts. 

Volunteering Solutions

Founded in 2007, more than 17,000 international volunteers and interns have chosen Volunteering Solutions. With 150+ projects across 27 countries, Volunteering Solutions offers plenty of internship abroad opportunities in marine conservation and biology. 

Known for high-quality, affordable programs, Volunteering Solutions has internships that will boost your resume, equip you with new skills, and allow you to help local environments and communities.  

To learn more about Volunteering Solutions and interning through their organization, visit their website here. (UK readers, please visit their UK site here). Also, check out the three great marine conservation internship programs.

Beach Conservation Program in Ghana

Spend amazing days on the beaches of Ghana, cleaning up garbage and debris with local environmentalists. You’ll also get the chance to do educational outreach in Accra to teach locals about the importance of having clean beaches and waters. Additionally, you’ll plant trees along the coasts to protect against erosion.

This program is great for learning about beach conservation, as well as for showing you how community awareness is built. Interested? Apply here!

Underwater Conservation in Barcelona

Discover the underwater world of Barcelona while helping to conserve its diverse coastal ecosystem. Volunteers live in a community apartment managed by the NGO and work with the Catalan Federation of Scuba Diving and scientific programs on various marine preservation tasks in Mediterranean waters. Daily activities include seabed clean-ups, logging collected trash data, rescuing marine life from debris, and documenting underwater biodiversity. 

Volunteers also engage in local educational outreach and community work, making meaningful contributions to environmental conservation while exploring Barcelona outside the typical tourist paths. This program is ideal for those passionate about marine life and eager to make a positive environmental impact.

Marine & Coral Reef Conservation in Bali

Journey to beautiful Bali, and do your part to reduce ocean pollution. There, you’ll help locals develop skills that are focused on sustainability, rather than extracting resources from the sea. You’ll even get to teach children about sustainability practices, eliminating plastic waste, and more. 

This program teaches a lot about sustainable strategies to protect coral reef ecosystems and marine life. 

Interested? Apply here!

Global Vision International (GVI)

Founded in 1997 by Richard Walton, Global Vision International (GVI) is an award-winning organization that provides volunteer and internship opportunities in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. GVI is unique from other volunteer programs in three ways:

  1. They operate their own volunteer projects to ensure real, sustainable impact on the ground
  2. They provide 360-degree support before, during, and after your placement
  3. Their alumni network provides increased access to higher education and career development opportunities.

At GVI, they offer three different types of marine conservation internships: internships, professional apprenticeships, and research fellowships. These are based on your current experience and your future career path. All of these follow the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), which means the interns’ work projects are ensured to contribute to long-term conservation goals. The programs range from 2 to 24 weeks. Below are some samples of the projects that you can intern with.

Marine Biology Internship in the Canary Islands 

Join a marine biology internship in the Canary Islands on Tenerife, a prime location for cetacean research. This 2-12 week internship involves 40 hours of weekly fieldwork, focusing on cetacean data collection, population trend analysis, and dorsal fin photography for tracking individuals. Interns contribute to understanding the impacts of human activities like tourism and fishing on marine mammals.

Tasks include observing and documenting cetaceans, processing photos for dorsal fin ID, surveying coastal areas, and recording weather, fishing, and boat traffic data. Interns input and analyze data to inform environmental policies. Additional activities include beach and park cleanups.

Highlights include gaining technical research skills, exploring island activities, contributing to vital research, and working with real conservation partners. This program is ideal for those studying marine science, biology, environmental science, or related fields.

Marine Conservation Internship in Seychelles

Join the Marine Conservation Internship in Seychelles, offering a unique opportunity to scuba dive in the Indian Ocean while contributing to vital marine conservation projects. Spanning 4-12 weeks with 40 hours of weekly fieldwork, this program partners with esteemed organizations like SNPA.

Interns gain hands-on experience in coral reef health research, species identification, and underwater data collection, including PADI Reef Ecosystem Diver Specialty training. You’ll participate in conservation surveys, marine debris removal, and community outreach.

Highlights include diving among diverse marine megafauna, supporting impactful research, and developing leadership skills through practical training. This program is ideal for those studying marine science, biology, environmental science, or related fields, offering international experience and recognized qualifications to boost your CV.

Marine Conservation Online Internship

Join GVI’s 8-week online Marine Conservation course to explore ocean ecosystems, from plankton to blue whales. Dedicate 15 hours per week to learn about marine protected areas (MPAs), marine biomes, and conservation data collection. This course is perfect for anyone passionate about ocean conservation, whether a student, professional, or retiree.

Gain knowledge and skills to understand the balance between sea life and their environment, the threats they face, and conservation strategies. Complete the course to earn a digital certificate of completion. The curriculum covers marine conservation history, current challenges, and real-world sustainable projects, providing a comprehensive foundation in marine conservation.

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 – if you’re looking for more inspiration, check out these articles:

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