Internships in marine science provide students with the opportunity to get their hands dirty (or, more appropriately, get their hands wet) by working both in and under the water, and an internship abroad is one of the best ways to combine an incredible overseas experience with the opportunity to work in new and exciting environments. If you are a marine science student searching for the perfect internship abroad, dive on in to this guide to learn all about the opportunities that are available to you!
For students studying marine science, there is only so much that can be learned inside a classroom. The real heart and soul of the discipline lies in field work and in experiencing the animals and ecosystems that are central to marine science as a whole. Fortunately for students based in the U.S., the waters of the surrounding coasts are home to a huge range of aquatic life. However, the United States’ bordering seas represent just a tiny fraction of the marine environments present on earth.
Interning abroad allows students to experience working with various ecosystems and the organisms that inhabit them, which is almost a necessity in marine science. An international internship is a perfect way to facilitate this kind of hands on experience. Everything from hard science and data collection based internships to more proactive environmentalism based internship opportunities are available. In this way, marine life internships abroad have the potential to be both fantastic learning opportunities as well as important and meaningful efforts in the fight to better understand and protect our ocean ecosystems.
Thailand: In the southeastern region of Thailand lies a series of islands bordered to the west by the Andaman Sea. These islands are home to some of the most spectacular coral reefs in the world and consequently are a hot bed for coral reef ecology and conservation work. If you are looking to make the most of a marine internship abroad by joining the fight against coral reef destruction, interning in Thailand should be one of your top considerations.
Fiji: An archipelago nation consisting of over 300 islands, Fiji is surrounded on all sides by the sea. Naturally, preserving, protecting, and studying the ocean are all top priorities here. The University of the South Pacific in Suva is home to one of the best marine science and ecology programs in the Eastern Hemisphere and dozens of organizations with possibilities for marine life internships that work hand in hand with the school. Marine biology internships in Fiji include placements in Coral Reef Biodiversity and Ecology, Coastal Studies, and Marine Conservation.
Australia: Possibly providing the widest range of available marine biology internships abroad, Australia’s coastlines abound with aquatic life. In the north lies the Great Barrier Reef, the largest and most well-known coral reef on the planet. Additionally, nearly all Australian coasts have resident populations of sharks, but the eastern and northern coasts are home to Tiger Sharks and Great Whites, some of the largest and most dangerous predators on the planet. Conservation efforts are also widespread and well-funded in Australia, making for a fantastic location for meaningful yet important marine biology internships abroad.
Caribbean: Consisting of over 700 islands whose ownership is spread amongst 18 different nations, the Caribbean is another fantastic location for marine science internships abroad. Specifically, this area of the world is home to multiple internship programs that provide student interns with a multinational educational experience that is frequently worth academic credit as well. Marine life internships in the Caribbean may even involve interns living and working aboard a ship that travels between ports around the Caribbean, learning about each individual marine ecosystem encountered along the way.
Internships in marine science can give students the opportunity to perform a wide variety of tasks and jobs. Everything from data/sample collection in the open ocean to categorizing and analysis in a lab environment can be among the tasks marine biology internship tasks. The types of marine life being analyzed can also vary between internships placements; marine life internships can include studying anything from mollusks to manta rays.
Most marine biology internships abroad last anywhere from several weeks to several months. Well established scientific or educational institutes focused on the hard science/data collection side of marine science are just one option for internships abroad. Universities and marine laboratories fall into this category, for example, but it is not uncommon for non-profit organizations with broader goals to have marine science internships available as well. Many organizations focus on combining the disciplines of marine science and conservation or environmentalism, providing the opportunity to make a direct impact in the fight to preserve our oceans even when interning abroad for a short period of time.
A mix of both laboratory and field work is common for marine science internships abroad, and most interns will be expected to be competent swimmers or divers. A diving certification or experience working and functioning in the ocean are essential requirements for many internships in marine science, and many organizations will require at least some form of official open water dive training too. Some marine biology internships abroad also combine diving certification with internships.
Salaries for marine science internships are somewhat hit and miss, especially when interning with independent organizations. When interning with academic institutions however, scholarship funding is occasionally available to help offset the costs of internships. If your marine life internship is being sponsored or overseen in some way by a University, ask an advisor what scholarships may be available to you. On top of this, some academic institutions will also offer university credit for your internship abroad, another possibility to look into when applying for positions.
Another positive in the costs department for international interns is the wide range of locations available. Sure, potential locations like Australia, South Africa, and some Caribbean nations will be moderately expensive, but others like Thailand will see a much lower cost of living. This means individuals could easily complete a three month marine science internship abroad in some locations for the same price as a few weeks in a more expensive locale. If cost is a factor, be sure to look into what is provided with the internship (food, housing, etc.) and what is left to be paid for by you. Then weigh these values against the costs of living in each location to find the most suitable destination for both you and your wallet.
As with any professional experience, an internship in marine science will provide interns with valuable hands-on experience in the field. This type of work experience is especially important in marine science as the field literally revolves around the ocean, which is a unique work environment to say the least. Interns will develop skills needed to advance in the field as well as skills that will prove to future employers that they have the appropriate training and experience to excel in the professional sphere.