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Shedd Aquarium

Captain/Director of Operations

A pillar in the Chicago community for generations, Shedd Aquarium welcomes approximately two million guests annually, cares for over 32,000 animals, and maintains one of the most diverse aquatic collections in the world with more than 1,500 species. In addition to the Aquarium in Chicago, Shedd Aquarium has a floating field station, the R/V Coral Reef II, located in Miami, Florida.  The research vessel is indispensable in the Aquarium’s conservation research and education programs.  The 80-foot custom built boat serves as a mobile basecamp and laboratory for field researchers and is the jumping-off point to Caribbean Reefs for students interested in marine biology. 
While the boat is based in Miami, from spring to fall it is a familiar sight throughout the Bahamian archipelago.  For more than two decades, the R/V CRII has enabled our scientists to conduct open-water studies, including population surveys of the economically and ecologically important queen conch and nassau grouper; studies on coral health and resiliency to climate change; and shark demographic studies. Our research projects are conducted in collaboration with the Bahamian government and local conservation organizations. Each year the boat also takes Chicago-area college and high school students enrolled in both the ACCA Marine and Island Ecology of The Bahamas and Teen Science Expedition program to nature’s classroom in the Florida Keys, where they study reef and island ecology in the water and in a lab on deck. 
This position commands the overall operation, crew, passengers, and safety of Shedd’s research vessel, the R/V Coral Reef II.  This position is responsible for operation and navigation of the vessel, overseeing maintenance and repairs, maintaining legal compliance, and assuring proper usage of the Coral Reef II in cooperation with Shedd Aquarium’s goals. In working with the co-captain and cook/deckhand, the captain ensures the protocols are followed and safety measures practiced.   
Essential Duties & Responsibilities include the following. Other duties may be assigned. To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily.  The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill and/or ability required.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. 

  • Demonstrate and represent commitment to Shedd’s vision, mission, and values. 
  • Conduct safe and legal operation and navigation of the vessel while at sea and oversee the safety of all persons on board.   
  • Adhere to institutional customer service policies to ensure internal and external customer service satisfaction. 
  • Assist with the day-to-day and preventative maintenance and repairs of the vessel. 
  • Plan and implement annual maintenance requirements including biannual haul outs. 
  • Maintain and complete legal requirements and documents for proper compliance and/or clearance of the vessel in local, national, and international waters. 
  • Ensure compliance with all federal, state, and local safety regulations with special regard to the U.S. Coast Guard including overseeing inspections and administering the Coast Guard drug-free policy. 
  • Maintain clear communication with programmatic users of the vessel and Shedd stakeholders. 
  • Develop annual budgets and maintain financial records. 
  • Provide/Support/Facilitate/Ensure the safety of all persons on board 
  • Other duties as assigned 
To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. 

Education: High school degree required.  College degree preferred. 

  • 10+ years relevant work experience 
  • Proven business management: financial planning, budgeting, strategic planning, project management, risk management and marketing 
  • Maintaining boats and equipment on board, such as engines, winches, navigational systems, fire extinguishers and life preservers 
  • Maintaining diesel engines and gasoline outboard engines 
  • Excellent communication and customer service 
  • Knowledge of maritime laws and regulations 
  • Must have a calm and charismatic personality and be able to greet and socialize with guests 
  • USCG Merchant Mariner License (Captain’s license) – Minimum 100 gross tons, near coastal, all STCW endorsements 
  • SCUBA certification (Divemaster level preferred) 
  • Valid driver’s license 
  • Valid U.S. passport 
  • First aid training up to date  
  • AED/CPR training 
  • Current T.W.I.C. (Transportation Workers Identification Card) 
We strongly encourage people of color, LGBTQ+ community, veterans and active duty military, parents, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from all cultural backgrounds to apply. Shedd Aquarium is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes everyone to our team. If you need a reasonable accommodation at any point in the application or interview process, please let us know. In your application, please feel free to select which pronouns you use (For example – she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs).

How to Apply

Online at

Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lakeshore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605

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