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Bottlenose Dolphin Photo-ID Internship Position for Summer 2024

The Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research (OBXCDR)/Nags Head Dolphin Watch are currently accepting applications for the 2024 summer season. The research season is May 6th-October 18th. Four internship positions are available for the following dates: May 6th-September 30th, May 6th-August 19th, May 20st-September 30th, and June 10th – October 18th. Start/end dates are flexible but successful applicants must be able to commit for the entire internship period.

The Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research is a 501 c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of bottlenose dolphins in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Our program’s goal is to gain an understanding of the population dynamics, movement patterns, and behavioral ecology of coastal bottlenose dolphins in the sounds and coastal waters near the Outer Banks. The OBXCDR conducts a long-term photo-identification monitoring study of bottlenose dolphins in Roanoke, Croatan, Albemarle, Pamlico and Currituck Sounds. Data is collected via dedicated small boat surveys as well as opportunistically from a local dolphin watch. Information from the monitoring study is used to examine annual population trends, habitat utilization, social associations, and ecology of the dolphins as well as aid in efforts to examine bottlenose dolphin stock structure and movement patterns along the U.S. Atlantic coast. Interns will gain experience in field data collection, photo-identification of dolphins, and environmental education. For more information about the OBXCDR, please visit:

The internship position will consist of bottlenose dolphin photo-identification, opportunistic/dedicated field research, and environmental education. Responsibilities include:

  • Mate/naturalist duties aboard the Nags Head Dolphin Watch: This involves the implementation of educational programs, including public speaking aboard the eco-tours (using a microphone and one-on-one) to educate others about local dolphin biology and marine conservation, as well as additional mate duties. The mate/naturalist will also collect opportunistic sighting data aboard the eco-tours (measuring environmental parameters, and recording sighting data) and assist in general maintenance of field equipment.  For additional information about the Nags Head Dolphin Watch, please see (70% of time)
  • Photo-identification of dolphins in the lab: This includes photo sorting, grading, and matching, sighting data entry, and assisting in maintenance of the long-term OBX catalog using the programs finFindR and FinBase. This work will be completed remotely through a remote login to our lab computer. (20% of time)
  • Boat-based photo-identification: The intern will assist with dedicated boat-based photo-identification surveys to contribution to the examination of site fidelity and stock structure of bottlenose dolphins in northeastern North Carolina sounds. Responsibilities may include operating a small vessel during transect surveys and sightings, assisting with photo-identification, collecting sighting data for dolphin groups, and general maintenance of field equipment. (10% of time)


This internship requires a minimum commitment of 36 hours per week, consisting of eco-tours, lab photo-identification, and dedicated surveys. The intern will carry out mate/naturalist duties aboard the Nags Head Dolphin Watch for 3-4 days per week throughout the field season while 1-2 days per week will be spent conducting photo-identification using FinBase and finFindR. Dedicated surveys will be conducted 2-3 times per month from May through October.

Salary:  This internship is a paid position. Applicants will receive an hourly pay of $15/hr. for the naturalist position on the dolphin watch portion only. (Lab work and dedicated surveys are not included) Tips aboard the dolphin tours are expected, but not guaranteed.

Housing:  Although housing is not provided, we will assist you in finding housing accommodations in the Outer Banks. Interns are responsible for their own transportation to and from the Outer Banks as well as to and from the field sites and lab.

The successful applicant would ideally have the following qualifications:

  • Minimum of 18 years of age and recently graduated with an undergraduate degree in marine biology, biology, zoology, or related field
  • Strong interest in the marine environment and conservation
  • Ability to swim
  • Basic proficiency in MS Access, Word, Excel, and Picture Manager as well as digital photography
  • Enthusiasm, attention to detail, responsible, independent, focused, and dedicated
  • Works well in a team environment as well as individually
  • Experience in boating and marine field data collection
  • Experience in environmental outreach preferred
  • Experience in photo-identification preferred
  • Adequate strength and agility to perform duties necessary to dock 45 ft. boat
  • First AID/CPR certification preferred
  • Due to employment aboard the dolphin eco-tours, all candidates must be U.S. citizens


NOTE: The United States Coast Guard requires all passenger vessels to be drug free work environments. In order to work aboard the dolphin eco-tours, the intern will be required to pass a pre-employment drug test and to participate in random drug testing during the period of the research season.

Application Process:

Please submit cover letter, resume, and contact information for 3 references via email to [email protected]. Use “Dolphin photo-id internship” in the subject line of the email. Applicants must apply by March 1st to be considered for this position. Applications will be reviewed in the order received.


John Kerner

Owner/Captain Nags Head Dolphin Watch

Executive Board Member, Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research

P.O. Box 7721

Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948