COAST Student Internships Summer 2022

​​National Marine Fisheries Service 

West Coast Region Protected Resource​s Division 

Abalone Conservation Internship

Host: NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources through scientific research, fisheries management, enforcement, and habitat conservation. The West Coast ​Region of NMFS administers a variety of programs along the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California; and in the vast inland habitats of Washington, Oregon, California and Idaho. We work to conserve, protect, and manage resources under the Endangered Species Act​​​​ (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act, and sustainably manage West Coast fisheries as guided by the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act​.

Location: Based in Long Beach (map) at the NMFS West Coast Regional Office; occasional travel to captive abalone facilities and field sites throughout southern California as needed (planning for in-person participation but will transition to hybrid or remote if necessary)​.

Internship Dates: June 1 - August 16, 2022; start and end dates flexible with regard to student’s academic commitments.

Stipend: $6,000. Up to $2,000 in additional funding will be available to students who must relocate to participate in the internship.​​​

Time Commitment: The internship is a full time, 11-week commitment.  Over the 11 weeks, the intern may take up to five days off for personal reasons, vacation or illness.  If participation is less than 100%, the stipend will be prorated.

NOTE: Scientific diving is NOT required for placement in this internship. However, if you are a current AAUS-certified scientific diver, you may have the opportunity to participate in NOAA-led dives as part of this internship.  

Position Description and Responsibilities: NMFS works in collaboration with many partners to protect and conserve abalone species along the U.S. West Coast by monitoring and evaluating the status of species, developing and implementing protections, and carrying out on-the-ground conservation efforts. Currently, white abalone and black abalone are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), and green abalone, pink abalone, and pinto abalone are listed as NMFS Species of Concern (SOC). Abalone are economically valuable in California, and they are also iconic species with significant historical and cultural significance. They are important to Indigenous people, who value them as a central part of their culture, using the meat for food and the shells for jewelry, regalia, and ceremonies. 

One (1) internship is offered to work with NMFS scientists on a number of projects that support NMFS and its partners in achieving conservation goals for abalone. The intern will be expected to contribute to or take leadership in a number of ongoing NMFS activities, as well as develop and implement new ideas.  

Duties may include
  • Reviewing and analyzing time-lapse images of white and pinto abalone to extract ecological and behavioral data; 
  • Evaluating the status of ESA-listed and SOC abalone species in southern California and Baja California;
  • Assisting with captive breeding programs at local aquaria;   
  • Assisting with abalone outplanting and monitoring in the field (support in the lab, aboard the vessel, and potentially in the water if qualified to participate in NOAA-led dives);
  • Participating in field surveys and field/lab studies to inform abalone conservation; 
  • Reviewing and synthesizing monitoring and experimental data, including assisting with the development of databases;  
  • Developing and participating in education and outreach programs to the public on abalone conservation;
  • Evaluating and exploring ways to make education and outreach materials and programs accessible to a diverse audience; and
  • Assisting with development of abalone field experiences that are accessible to diverse groups of people.

Specific duties will be discussed and established at the start of the internship, based on the intern’s experience and interests and the Regional Office’s needs. 

At the end of the internship, the intern may be expected to provide the following to NMFS, based on the specific duties and projects assigned: 
  • An organized time-lapse camera database and metadata on data included in the database; 
  • An organized database and metadata for abalone outplanting and monitoring;
  • A summary of the ecological and behavioral patterns observed in white and pinto abalone based on camera footage and monitoring efforts; 
  • A draft report on the status of ESA-listed and SOC abalone species; 
  • A summary of field/lab studies and findings; and/or 
  • Draft outreach and education materials for abalone conservation, such as web stories, video clips, summaries, and visual presentations to share information with the public and our partners.

Preferred Experience and Capabilities: This internship will require excellent verbal, written, and organizational skills. Experience with data management (MS Office, Access Database, ArcGIS) is desired. Experience with outreach and education, dive experience, and previous experience working with abalone conservation, monitoring, and/or captive rearing and propagation is a plus. Intern must have the ability to multitask in a team-oriented process while taking initiative and working independently.  

Skills Gained: The intern will gain perspective on science, management, and policy issues related to NMFS, the ESA, and abalone conservation. The intern will gain experience working with a small team and working independently to gather, evaluate, and synthesize information. The intern will also gain hands-on experience working with a dynamic group to implement field and lab studies and on-the-ground abalone conservation efforts. The intern will learn how to operate in a professional office and interact with NMFS colleagues and partners at conservation organizations, universities, and state and federal agencies. The intern will be able to contribute to abalone conservation efforts in southern California.

Eligibility/Requirements: Applicants must be able to work independently and interact in a professional manner with the project partners, the public, researchers, and other NMFS staff. Intern must be able to keep excellent notes and organize various streams of information into a coordinated or concise message. Travel may be required to abalone facilities throughout southern California and aboard research vessels as needed to execute this project. A Federal background investigation, to include fingerprints and character references, is required.​​ Applicants are also subject to general eligibility requirements​.

Scientific Divers: Applicants who wish to participate in SCUBA diving operations must include with their application: 1) a letter of reciprocity from their university’s dive safety officer (DSO) indicating that they are certified and authorized as a scientific diver (and will be for the duration of the internship) and 2) a short paragraph detailing their diving experience in temperate kelp forest conditions. They must also meet the following requirements: 

  • Current AAUS certified Scientific Diver 
  • DAN Insurance 
  • Current AAUS-approved medical exam with physician approval
  • Current First Aid, CPR, and Emergency Oxygen Administration training
  • Minimum of 50 dives in cold water kelp forest environment
  • A minimum of 4 dives within the past 6 months
  • Excellent underwater navigation skills
  • Scuba equipment serviced by an authorized technician within the last 12 months
  • Swim test and check-out dive
  • Ability to transport self and gear to office, lab and boat sites

Return to Announcement for Application and Additional R​equirement​s​​​