Marine Mammal Monitoring Project Volunteer Internship Opportunities – Sea Watch Foundation

The Sea Watch Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to marine research, conservation, and public education is seeking applications for the following:

Sea Watch Foundation Research Internship

Interns are invited to assist the Sea Watch Foundation (SWF) with the running of the “Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project”. The project is based in New Quay, West Wales, and supports the conservation management of the bottlenose dolphin, harbour porpoise and grey seal populations of Cardigan Bay, monitoring their abundance, distribution, reproductive success and population structure using a combination of vessel-based and land-based surveys. SWF has been monitoring these populations on behalf of the Welsh government (through funding provided by Natural Resources Wales) for over a decade. Cardigan Bay contains Britain’s largest coastal population of bottlenose dolphins, for which two Special Areas of Conservation have been established under the EU Habitats Directive.

Interns will help the Cardigan Bay Monitoring Officer and the Sightings Officer by taking part in the following tasks:

  • Land-based surveys
  • Boat-based surveys
  • Photo-identification matching
  • Data entry
  • Raising public awareness
  • Education initiatives and events
  • Assisting with and participation in training courses and other needs of the charity.

In addition to these tasks, we have some specialist equipment, two hydrophones and a drone, to opportunistically collect acoustic and aerial data during boat-based surveys. Sea Watch have also been contributing to a project to collect dolphin blow samples for population genetics and microbiome analyses. Interns interested in these subjects may also have the opportunity to assist in data collection for these projects.

Interns are required from early April until the end of October 2019. The research season is split into four separate periods, each lasting 7 weeks. The research periods for the 2019 season are:

Period 1: April 8 – May 26

Period 2: May 27 – July 14

Period 3: July 15 – September 1

Period 4:  September 2 – October 20

Interns are expected to arrive on the first day of their chosen period and depart on the first day of the next period. Start and end dates are not flexible.

Preference will be given to those applying for more than one period.

Interns will be based in New Quay, Ceredigion, West Wales. Accommodation is provided by a private landlord through rental of a house that interns share at a rate of around £73 per person per week. Rooms are shared between two or three people, with a total of nine people in the house at any given time. Interns are responsible for their own travel, accommodation and living expenses, but it is generally quite easy to obtain part-time paid work in the area if required.

Important skills/qualifications


  • an ability to work independently in a meticulous and reliable manner
  • strong commitment to volunteering work
  • willingness to work long hours outdoors in often changeable Welsh weather
  • good IT skills (Office package)
  • an ability to get on well with others in a small team and in shared accommodation


  • a strong interest and knowledge of British cetaceans
  • a background in marine biology/environmental science or similar
  • prior experience in boat-based survey work
  • good verbal and written communication skills and in public speaking
  • experience in interacting with the public

All interns will be trained in cetacean observation and identification, in boat survey protocols, and photo-identification of bottlenose dolphins.

Normal office hours are from 10:00 to 17:00 hrs but field work regularly falls outside these hours, particularly land-based watches which take place throughout the day in two hour shifts from 07:00 to 21:00. Interns will sometimes be scheduled onto ‘early’ and ‘late’ shifts to accommodate these. Line transect surveys are all day surveys and will typically start in the early morning hours and run for at least 8 hours.

Prospective interns should be aware that they will be contributing to ongoing, established research projects that routinely inform government agencies on the status of cetaceans in the UK, and accordingly are expected to take the internship seriously and prioritise it over extra-curricular activities. Working in a small NGO environment in a tight knit team can be a challenging experience and requires a high degree of flexibility, tolerance and a positive attitude. After initial training, interns will often be expected to work in the absence of direct supervision so the ability to work independently and maintain a positive, proactive outlook is essential.

Internships with Sea Watch have frequently led to established posts in national and international research and conservation bodies, as well as providing a stepping stone for students to undertake doctoral studies in marine mammal science.

International applications are welcome, but it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure visa requirements are met and we ask applicants to highlight their chosen visa option in their application.

Potential funding sources to support your internship with Sea Watch

SWF is aware that undertaking unpaid work can be challenging, however, as a small charity we are currently not able to offer compensation for internships. There are some outside funding bodies that may be able to help you fund your internship. If you are accepted for an internship, we are happy to provide letters to support your funding application.

If you are a current student or recent graduate it is worth checking whether your university offers financial support for students undertaking field work related to their degree subject.

How to Apply

If you are interested in this position, please contact Katrin on with a completed application form and CV.

You can download your application form here:

Please mention when applying for this job!

Key Information


Sea Watch Foundation




Full Time


Entry Level, Graduate, Mid Level, Postgraduate


Biodiversity, Biology, Climate Change, Conservation, Ecology, Education, Environment, Fundraising, Marine Conservation, Research


New Quay, Wales, United Kingdom

Application Deadline:

11th January 2019 at 11:45pm