Research Assistant & Intern Coordinator

Each year the Sea Watch Foundation (SWF) looks for a Research Assistant & Intern Coordinator to assist with the running of the Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project for the season. The project is based in New Quay, West Wales, and supports the conservation management of the bottlenose dolphin, harbour porpoise and grey seal populations of Cardigan Bay, monitoring their abundance, distribution, reproductive success and population structure using a combination of vessel-based and land-based surveys. SWF has been monitoring these populations on behalf of the Welsh government (through funding provided by Natural Resources Wales) for two decades. Cardigan Bay contains Britain’s largest coastal population of bottlenose dolphins, for which two Special Areas of Conservation have been established under the EU Habitats Directive. Internships with Sea Watch have frequently led to established posts in national and international research and conservation bodies, as well as providing a stepping stone for students to undertake doctoral studies in marine mammal science.

The SWF research season typically runs from around the end of March to the first week of November.

Responsibilities will include, but are not limited to:

  • Coordination between the Monitoring Officer and project interns – in charge of the intern shared house and the intern weekly office rota.
  • Assisting New Quay staff in training interns and other volunteers in land- and boat based surveys, photo ID studies, database entry, and more.
  • Liaising closely with Education Officer and Education Assistant
  • Assisting the Monitoring Officer in all phases of the research.
  • Optional opportunity to undertake a personal research project supervised by the Monitoring Officer. Research topic will be chosen according to Sea Watch Foundation requirements and applicant’s interests.


The successful applicant is expected to have completed a BSc degree (or higher) in biology, marine biology, zoology, chemistry, or related field and able to demonstrate previous experience in marine mammal research. A strong interest and knowledge of British cetaceans and experience are beneficial.

The applicant should ideally have some experience using DSLR cameras. Practical experience of photo-identification (both photography and matching) is desirable. Experience with other equipment regularly used by Sea Watch Foundation such as hydrophone, polecam, theodolite, digiscope and aerial camera drone is advantageous.

The applicant must be proficient with database and word processing software and be willing to learn new software applications. Specific experience in use of Access and GIS would be advantageous.

The preferred candidate should have a proven track record as a team player. The Research Assistant will be working in tightly knit team with the three New Quay based SWF staff members as well as coordinating a team of at least 8 interns. The Research Assistant and interns live and work together on a daily basis which requires a high degree of interpersonal skills, tact and a good sense of humour to maintain positive relationships and team morale. Previous experience working successfully in similar situations is essential.

Applicants should be self-motivated, with the drive and determination to work independently and responsibly without direct supervision. The work load is varied and therefore a high degree of organisation, attention to detail, and ability to prioritise are essential.

If a personal research project is undertaken, this brings the opportunity to submit work for scientific publication, and for presentation at the European Cetacean Society Conference.

The Research Assistant is expected to work 5 days a week with office hours running from 9AM to 6PM with an hour lunch break although field work regularly falls outside of office hours.The Research Assistant is required for the entirety of the field season but is entitled to one week’s holiday during the season, the dates of which should be agreed upon at the start of placement if at all possible.

This position is unpaid but (shared) accommodation will be provided in the intern house free of charge.

The Research Assistant will be responsible for their own travel expenses to New Quay for the season. Due to the touristic background of New Quay, part-time paid evening work is generally easy to find if required by the applicant. There are also a number of external organisations that may offer grants to partially cover living expenses (see below).

International applications are welcome but it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure visa requirements are met and the chosen visa option should be highlighted in the application form. 

We expect to open the application window for the 2024 season by mid November, so please check back here or keep an eye on our social media channels to find out when we are welcoming applications and how to apply.

Potential funding sources to support your internship with Sea Watch

SWF is aware that undertaking unpaid work can be challenging. However, as a relatively small charity it is currently not able to offer compensation for internships. However, there are some outside funding bodies that may be able to help you fund your internship. If you are accepted for an internship, we are happy to provide letters to support your funding application.

If you are a current student or recent graduate it is worth checking whether your university offers financial support for students undertaking field work related to their degree subject.

This site offers a comprehensive list of potential grants to apply for: Gap Year Funding list