Program Description

The Manatee Research Program studies several aspects of the biology of manatees inhabiting the waters of Southwest Florida, including population dynamics, population genetics, habitat use, distributional patterns and social behavior. Field data and samples are collected using photo-identification, aerial surveys and non-invasive genetic sampling. From spring through early fall, photo-identification, genetic, and behavioral sampling are conducted primarily in Sarasota and Manatee counties.  During the winter, field work is conducted primarily in Charlotte Harbor and Ft. Myers area.  Aerial surveys are conducted twice per month in Sarasota County to assess relative abundance and distribution of manatees in those waters.  The long-term database of the program contributes to management and conservation measurements for Florida manatees. Additionally, the program collaborates with manatee researchers throughout the state of Florida and the Caribbean.

Internship Description

Internships are available during all four seasons and must be a MINIMUM of 12 weeks.  Hours are typically Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5pm, although some longer days may be required for field work (especially during the winter season).

Interns should expect to spend about 20% of their time in the field and about 80% of their time in the office/lab.  Field work duties include assisting with data collection, boat handling, and equipment use and maintenance.  Field work requires spending long hours in the field, sometimes in uncomfortable weather conditions.  Office/Lab duties include data entry, processing, equipment maintenance, and miscellaneous task and errands.

Required Qualifications

  • Minimum of 18 years of age and engaged in or recently completed undergraduate studies
  • A background or degree in Biology, Marine Biology, Ecology, Zoology, or a related field is preferred
  • Basic computer proficiency in Microsoft Office (especially Excel and Access); previous experience using ArcMap GIS is a plus but not required
  • Excellent communication skills; fluent in English
  • Must be physically able to stand for long periods of time and lift heavy objects
  • Knowledge of photography/SLR camera use and/or drawing skills are a plus
  • Desire and willingness to acquire knowledge and skills related to marine mammal field work and capable of working well as a team