Application Deadline: March 1

Applications will be accepted year-round with a deadline of March 1 st for all internships starting the subsequent nesting season (April-October).

Internship Period

Sea turtle nesting season is April 15 - October 31. Priority is given to applicants that can start in April or May and can stay at least through July or as late as October. Applicants with a start date after June 5 th may not be considered for the internship. There are no internship opportunities in the off-season (November - March).

Location

Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, FL

Days begin with field work conducted on Longboat Key, Lido Key, Siesta Key, Casey Key and Venice and end at the offices at Mote.

Background Information

Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program (STCRP) has monitored sea turtle activity for over three decades with rising numbers observed in recent years. The program supports conservation of the marine turtles (primarily Caretta caretta and Chelonia mydas) of the central Gulf Coast of Florida through the collection of fundamental biological data about nesting and hatching of sea turtles in Sarasota County. The STCRP is a community-based program consisting of 5-7 staff members, 10-20 interns, and approximately 300 volunteers who monitor 35 miles of beach for sea turtle activity. The STCRP also works with agencies throughout the state to support conservation efforts for these federally protected marine turtles (read more about the program at www.mote.org/seaturtles).

Duties

Interns participate in sea turtle nesting surveys that are conducted at dawn each day of nesting season. Sea turtle season on the Gulf Coast of Florida begins on April 15th and runs through October 31st. During these nesting surveys, volunteers walk the beach and report findings to staff and interns who respond by documenting the sea turtle activities. Once field work on the beach is completed, staff and interns return to Mote Marine Laboratory to perform office duties such as data entry, preparations for the next day, communicating with government agencies when required, scanning data sheets, painting stakes, and contacting STCRP volunteers for problem resolution and feedback. Interns also assist in informally educating the public about sea turtles, the hazards they face, and the proper actions humans should take when turtles are encountered. Specific field work activities are dependent on the time of the season, the degree of turtle activity and environmental factors, but in general, interns will be trained to do the tasks listed below:

  • Identify false crawls and nests
  • Identify sea turtle species from tracks
  • Verify nests (dig to locate eggs)
  • Stake off new nests
  • Complete required data forms
  • Respond to depredations, washovers/washouts, or other activities that negatively impact nests
  • Respond to adult and/or hatchling disorientation events
  • Excavate hatched nests (inventory of nest contents)
  • Operate an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) to patrol the beach in search of nesting activities (select locations)
  • Complete office tasks as previously described above


Interns will receive preliminary training by reviewing videos, slide shows, and manuals prior to the start of the internship. Once at Mote, interns will receive one-on-one training in the field and office.

Field work can be strenuous, may require walking long distances in soft sand, and is conducted every morning of the season despite inclement weather. Daily temperatures will reach 90+ degrees for a significant portion of the summer. Humid conditions with frequent showers and thunderstorms are normal. Prolonged rainfall often occurs in connection with tropical disturbances or hurricanes. Hot, buggy, sandy, or wet conditions can be expected.

A typical day begins at dawn and can be long and challenging, as each day presents variable conditions (such as storms) that can impact the workload. Interns often work on weekends, but they will have two consistent consecutive days off during the week. Obtaining a second job during the internship is not recommended due to the variability of the schedule and the heavy workload.

The likelihood of interacting with adult sea turtles is rare, as they primarily nest at night and nesting surveys begin at dawn. Occasionally, a nesting female will still be on the beach in the morning, though it is rare. Interactions with hatchlings (live and dead) can be expected, though is limited for the protection of the turtles.

Requirements

College students or recent graduates that are responsible, adaptable, motivated to learn and with an attention to detail are encouraged to apply. Maturity and professionalism are necessary when working with the public, STCRP staff members, and STCRP volunteers. Specific requirements follow:

  • MUST HAVE A VALID DRIVER’S LICENSE AND DEPENDABLE VEHICLE. Interns are responsible for transporting themselves and field equipment to the various beaches and Mote. A bicycle is not an acceptable alternative.
  • A commitment to participate in the program for at least 10 weeks, though longer is preferred.
  • A minimum of 18 years of age and engaged in or recently completed undergraduate studies.
  • A background or degree in Marine Science/Biology/Ecology or related field preferred.
  • Field research experience preferred, but not required.
  • Ability to walk long distances in soft sand, handle high temperatures, humidity, and insects, withstand exposure to intense sunlight, and carry up to 30 lbs.

Benefits/Costs

There is no compensation for the STCRP internship position. Interns will be responsible for their own transportation to and from Sarasota and living expenses during the time of the internship. Reimbursement will be provided for documented/approved mileage incurred on the intern’s personal vehicle while performing internship duties.

Scholarships are available from Mote Marine Laboratory through a competitive application process. Scholarship applications can be found on the Mote Internship Application webpage (see below). The STCRP is not involved in the scholarship review process.

Application/Contact Information

If you are interested in applying for an internship with the STCRP please:

  • Complete and submit an internship application which can be found on the Mote Marine Laboratory College Internship webpage. On the application, when asked for your first choice program, choose Sea Turtle Conservation and Research.
  • Read over the application carefully and provide all the required materials to the Mote Intern Office (statement of interest, current college transcript, letter of recommendation, resume, etc.). Incomplete applications may not be considered.

Applicants may contact Gina Santoianni at (941) 388-4441, ext. 269 or intern@mote.org with any general questions related to Mote internships. Specific questions related to Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program internships can be directed to Casey Olsen.