By KM - September 23, 2023
Type of Position
Internship - Unpaid
Company or Organization
International Fund for Animal Welfare
Yarmouth Port, MA
Closing Date
October 15th, 2023

Position Description

IFAW is an international non-profit organization. This internship is based out of our International Operations Center in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, USA. IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue and Research program is a federally authorized program dedicated to marine mammal stranding response on Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts. Our program strives to promote the conservation of marine mammal species and their habitat by improving the rescue and humane care of stranded marine mammals, advancing stranding science, and increasing public awareness through education. Cape Cod is a marine mammal stranding “hot spot,” with an average of over 264 strandings occurring each year. These strandings include live and dead seals, whales, porpoises, and dolphins. In addition to stranding response, IFAW’s MMRR division is introducing the Cetacean Intensive Care Unit (CICU) located at the Dolphin Rescue Center in Orleans, MA. CICU is a short-term holding facility (96 hours) that aims to provide rehabilitative care to dolphins and porpoises experiencing acute effects of stranding.

In addition to the operational duties the stranding interns will hold, they are also paired with staff members as mentors and may be given individual tasks and projects to complete under their mentor’s guidance. All interns will be cross-trained in stranding response and necropsy and every effort will be made for interns to gain a wide range of experiences.


  • Stranding hotline coverage: answer calls, document reports, educate callers, dispatch volunteers, complete associated paperwork and enter data.
  • Marine mammal stranding response and necropsy: assist staff with all aspects of marine mammal stranding response, including live animal health assessment and supportive care, biological data collection, post-mortem examinations and sampling in both field and laboratory settings.
    • May have the opportunity to assist the CICU program with aspects of their operations opportunistically and as needed. This could include animal care (i.e. in-water support, assist during procedures, monitoring animal behavior etc.), CICU education and outreach, CICU readiness and cleaning, etc.
  • Stranding / necropsy readiness: cleaning, organizing and maintaining stranding response and necropsy gear, equipment and facilities, restocking kits and supplies.
  • Data entry / sample processing: assist in entry of stranding data. Assist in organizing, cataloging, disseminating and archiving of photos, videos, datasheets, samples, etc.
  • Outreach: assist staff with training and outreach material preparation and organization, participate in opportunistic outreach at stranding sites, participate in community events.


  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Must possess a valid driver’s license and secure reliable transportation.
  • Be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program, have completed an undergraduate or graduate study of biology, zoology, ecology, conservation or related field (preferably within 2 years of graduation), or equivalent experience.
  • Must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to starting the position.
  • Able to follow written and oral staff directions and protocols effectively and able to work in teams and individually.
  • Must be able to commit to 3 or 4 days per week, which includes 1 weekend day, for the duration of the internship session.
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.


  • Previous marine mammal stranding response/research experience.
  • Previous necropsy experience (marine mammal or other taxa).
  • Experience caring for or handling animals.
  • Experience driving large trucks.
  • Experience in photo-ID.
  • Flexible daily schedules (Stranding events are unpredictable. Our days may start early or end later than scheduled).


  • This internship is unpaid and housing and transportation are the responsibility of the intern. If accepted, we will try to provide interns with resources to help find housing.
  • This position is eligible for workers’ compensation.
  • Interns may be required to work some holidays.
  • Interns should be prepared to perform in a variety of settings on any given day, including office, beach, on-water, and laboratory. Specialized gear such as dry suits, boots and life jackets will be provided.
  • Stranding work is unpredictable and changes seasonally. We cannot guarantee the type and number of strandings and experiences you will receive during your internship. We will do our best when possible to give interns a varied experience.
  • International applicants are responsible for their own VISA arrangements, etc.
  • Interns intending to receive academic credit are responsible for making all arrangements with their educational institution.
  • Incomplete applications will not be considered. Applications are due October 15th, 2023.
    • If you are submitting from an external posting site, be sure to check the original position post on the IFAW careers website to ensure you are fulfilling all application requirements.


Required application materials (you must provide all 3):

  • Cover Letter
  • Resume or C.V.
  • Provide names, emails, and phone numbers of two references, either professional or academic.
  • The IFAW Marine Mammal Stranding Internships are offered 3 times a year (Winter/Spring, Summer, and Fall).  You must re-apply for each session.  Please re-check back for future internship opportunities.

Related topics