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Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

Stranding Response Internship

The Virginia Aquarium’s Research & Conservation Division is now accepting Stranding Response Intern applications for winter 2022-2023. The application deadline is October 1, 2022. Internships will be approximately three months long, starting November 1, 2022, and ending around January 31, 2023. Internships will be fulfilled following COVID-19 safety guidelines, and positions are subject to change based on the most current recommendations. Please note that all positions are non-compensatory, and the Virginia Aquarium does not provide housing. Interns are fully responsible for fulfilling all requirements of their home institutions to receive academic credit.

Position Overview

Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program (VAQS) interns promote the conservation of marine animal species through research, rescue, rehabilitation, and education. Interns will be cross-trained in all aspects of stranding response, including necropsy, response, and rehabilitation. However, daily tasks will be delegated according to the daily caseload. Stranding work is unpredictable; therefore, experiences will vary by internship session. VAQS staff will provide as many learning opportunities as possible during each session.


- Respond to live and dead marine mammals and sea turtles in the field.

- Participate in all aspects of post-mortem examinations: cutting and sampling, data collection, photographing, carcass recovery, and cleaning.

- Perform daily husbandry tasks, including food preparation, feeding, and cleaning the rehab area, kitchen, and associated supplies.

- Assist staff with new admits and daily treatments of patients. Restrain animals for exams, collect vitals (heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature) and morphometrics, take photographs, administer medications, and perform wound care.

- Ensure response preparedness by stocking response bags, fueling vehicles, and cleaning gear.

- Assist with releases of rehabilitation patients, public outreach events, and volunteer/cooperator trainings.

- Assist staff with daily administrative tasks, including answering hotline calls, data entry, and completing response paperwork.

- Complete other projects and tasks as assigned by VAQS staff.

Required Qualifications

- Must be at least 18 years old.

- Must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program or have graduated within the last two years.

- Must be physically fit, able to lift 50 pounds, and walk long distances on the beach in adverse conditions such as extreme heat and cold, humidity, rain, and wind.

- Must be self-motivated, articulate, mature, reliable, and responsible. Should work well independently as well as with a team.

- Should be comfortable around dead and decomposing animals.

- Prefer candidate comfortable driving large pick-up trucks and vans. If accepted, willingness to learn how to drive response vehicles is required.

- Background in biology and familiarity with stranding response preferred.

- Experience with DSLR cameras and Microsoft Access preferred.


Position Requirements

- Attend VAQS orientation and City of Virginia Beach Defensive Driving upon starting.

- Possess a valid driver’s license.

- Pass a City of Virginia Beach background check.

- Wear a mask and comply with all organizational COVID-19 preventative measures.


Internship Learning Objectives: Develop fundamental hands-on stranding response and rehabilitation skills.

- Perform post-mortem examinations on sea turtles and marine mammals.

- Perform basic health assessments of rehabilitation patients, including vitals collection, wound treatment, administering medications, and blood processing.

- Complete Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network (STSSN) and Marine Mammal Stranding Level A forms.

- Enter stranding data in Microsoft Access.


Intern Schedule

Intern is expected to be available 3-4 days per week, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Weekend and holiday coverage is expected.


Minimum Commitment Required

Rotating 24-32 hours per week for the duration of the internship.


Intern Supervisor/Mentor

VAQS Volunteer Manager and Project Supervisor.


Work Location

Virginia Aquarium’s Darden Marine Animal Conservation Center


Application Requirements

A complete Stranding Response Internship packet must include the following components:

- Cover letter detailing preferred focus area, necropsy or rehabilitation, and internship expectations. While we will do our best to accommodate intern preferences, staff will determine the final focus area. There is some flexibility with the internship start and end dates. Please include any known schedule conflicts in your letter.

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center internship application form.

- Two letters of recommendation; one must be an academic reference.

- Resume

- College transcript(s)


Non Paid Internship

How to Apply

Forward your completed application packet to:

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
717 General Booth Boulevard
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451 
Attn: Volunteer Engagement - Intern Applicant 

OR email completed application packet to and copy Please type "Stranding Response Intern Application Packet" in the subject line. 

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
717 General Booth Boulevard, Attention: Volunteer Engagement
Virginia Beach, VA 23451

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