Marine Mammal Monitoring Project Volunteer Internship Opportunities

Sea Watch Foundation

New Quay, Ceredigion, West Wales

Volunteer • Full Time 01545561227 Chiara Giulia Bertulli

Sectors: marine conservation, conservation & wildlife

Closing date: Thursday, 30th January 2020  

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 2020. The research season is split into four separate periods, each lasting 7 weeks. The research periods for the 2020 season are:

Period 1: April 13 - May 31
Period 2: June 1- July 19
Period 3: July 20 - September 6
Period 4: September 7 - October 25

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 £74 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. Please be aware that while all effort is made to accommodate interns in single sex rooms, in some cases it might not be possible. If you have a strong preference, please indicate so in the application form and we will try our best to accommodate this. 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. Please note that Sea Watch Foundation is unable to sponsor visa applications for Research Interns.

If you are interested in this position, please contact Katrin on with a completed Research intern application form (available on the Sea Watch website) and CV by 30th January 2020. Decisions will be made by 18th February 2020.

Please mention when responding to this ad.