Research Intern


Interns are invited to assist the Sea Watch Foundation (SWF) with the running of the “Cardigan Bay Monitoring Project”. The project is based in picturesque 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.

Interns will help the Cardigan Bay Monitoring Officer and the Sightings Officer by taking part in the following tasks:

  • Land-based surveys
  • Boat-based surveys
  • Photo-identification matching
  • Data entry
  • Raising public awareness
  • Education initiatives and events
  • Assisting with and participation in training courses and other needs of the charity.

In addition to these tasks, we have some specialist equipment, two hydrophones, a polecam, and an aerial drone, to opportunistically collect acoustic, video and aerial data during boat-based surveys. Sea Watch have also been contributing to a project to collect dolphin blow samples for population genetics and microbiome analyses. Interns interested in these subjects may also have the opportunity to assist in data collection for these projects.

Interns are required from early April until the end of October 2021. The research season is split into four separate periods, each lasting 7 weeks. The research periods for the 2021 season are:

Period 1: April 12 – May 30
Period 2: May 31- July 18
Period 3: July 19 – September 5
Period 4: September 6 – October 24

Interns are expected to arrive on the first day of their chosen period and depart on the first day of the next period. We are not able to change the start and end dates unfortunately.

Preference will be given to those applying for more than one period.

Important skills/qualifications


  • an ability to work independently in a meticulous and reliable manner
  • strong commitment to volunteering work
  • willingness to work long hours outdoors in often changeable Welsh weather
  • good IT skills (Office package)
  • an ability to get on well with others in a small team and in shared accommodation


  • a strong interest and knowledge of British cetaceans
  • a background in marine biology/environmental science or similar
  • prior experience in boat-based survey work
  • good verbal and written communication skills and in public speaking
  • experience in interacting with the public

All interns will be trained in cetacean observation and identification, in boat survey protocols, and photo-identification of bottlenose dolphins.

Please note that at this time we cannot guarantee that internships will go ahead due to the restrictions that the ongoing pandemic imposes. We are hopeful that with the development of a vaccine we will be able to resume the field season as normal but if new restrictions are imposed in the new year, internships may need to be postponed or suspended, although there are various home based volunteering roles that can be undertaken should this occur.

International applications are welcome but it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure visa requirements are met and we ask applicants to highlight their chosen visa option in their application. Please note that Sea Watch Foundation is unable to sponsor visa applications for Research Interns. 

If you are interested in this position, please contact Katrin on with a completed Research intern application form (available on the Sea Watch website) and CV by 31st January 2021. Decisions will be made by 21st February 2021.

Potential funding sources to support your internship with Sea Watch

SWF is aware that undertaking unpaid work can be challenging, however, as a small charity we are currently not able to offer compensation for internships. 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 here.