Marine Mammal Research & Conservation Projects

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Marine Mammal Research & Conservation Projects


The Aegean Sea is one of most important marine biodiversity hotspots in the Mediterranean, supporting key populations of cetaceans (dolphins and whales), Mediterranean monk seals and sea turtles. The goal of the Archipelagos’ Marine Mammal Research Team is to monitor the regional status of marine mammal and sea turtle populations and their habitats in the Aegean, an area where data relating to these species is largely deficient. By gathering data on species populations and their respective threats, the research team works to fill these knowledge-gaps, identifying critical habitats that are especially susceptible to human and environmental impacts.

Program Description

This internship will consist of both field work and office work, which will provide interns with valuable skill sets in data collection, data analysis, and report writing for a professional career in marine mammal research, marine conservation and environmental management. Boat based surveys, of varying length, are conducted throughout the year depending on the weather. Surveys take place on our dedicated research vessels: Aegean Explorer (22m motorboat), Naftilos (15m sailing boat), Pinelopi (16m sailing boat), Okeanos (12m motorboat) and Asterias (7m speedboat). On these vessels, interns are involved in a variety of ongoing research projects, including:

  • Cetacean presence, abundance, distribution and behavioural studies (BORIS software) through boat-based surveys.
  • Species movement, residency patterns and social structure using mark recapture photo-ID techniques.
  • Passive Acoustics Monitoring of cetacean species and anthropogenic noise, using a broadband towed Hydrophone array (320m) and stationary hydrophone. PAMGuard and Raven Pro software are used for data analysis.
  • Presence, abundance, distribution and behavioural tendencies of Mediterranean monk seals and sea turtle species (Loggerhead and Green sea turtle).
  • Monitoring and assessing coastal and floating marine litter.
  • Monitoring and assessing seabird populations at sea.

Additional areas that interns can assist with are:

  • Response and sampling of stranded marine mammals and sea turtles.
  • Analysing microplastic content in marine animal digestive system.

These projects provide field-work and hands-on research opportunities for under-graduate and post-graduate students and for other early career researchers looking to gain field-research experience. Participants have the opportunity to collect data for producing a thesis and scientific publications (you can view Archipelagos researchers' scientific publications that interns contributed to, here). This internship provides skills and expertise valuable for a professional career in marine mammal research, marine conservation and environmental management.

When not conducting surveys, interns have the opportunity to conduct independent research projects, for university credit or for a thesis/dissertation.

Applicant profile

This internship program is available to applicants who have completed at least one year of college or university studies in the field of marine, ecological, environmental sciences and/or veterinary medicine.

Applicants must be able to work both independently and as part of a dynamic, multi-cultural, multidisciplinary team. During multi-day boat surveys, the research team lives on the boat, so applicants must be able to live in tight quarters for several days at a time.

Additional skills required:

  • Excellent organizational and time-management skills
  • Capacity for accurate and consistent data collection and analysis
  • Ability to write scientific reports and papers
  • Fluency in English
  • Sincere desire to work towards Archipelagos’ conservation efforts
  • Motivation to live in a small island community in simple facilities

Additional Information

Normal placement duration ranges between 3 - 12 months, although shorter or longer placements can be tailored to the needs of groups and individuals.

Archipelagos’ research bases and stations in the Eastern Aegean Sea, on the islands of Samos and Lipsi as well as onboard the research vessels. Interns often move between research bases and boats depending on where surveys will take place.

As a non-profit research institute, these internships are not paid. This educational experience also requires a monthly fee of 650 euro to cover living expenses, the cost of training, use of research equipment and research vessels, and other expenses like Wi-Fi and insurance. For shorter duration placement than 3 months the participation fees are 780 euro per month. Please note that travel costs to and from the research center are not included in the fees and are covered by the participant. This fee also contributes to the overall operations of the institute and allows Archipelagos to continue conducting important research.

Students and recent graduates are advised to explore possible funding through their universities, by getting in touch with the Finance / International Relations / Placement/ Erasmus+ Offices at their Universities or other relevant grant providing organizations in their region.

To apply for an internship, send a CV, cover letter, and at least one reference letter or reference contact details using the button at the top of the page.