Inspiring creative thinking and a commitment to ocean conservation in future generations.

Animal Care and Training Internship

The Animal Care and Training Internship with the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program is designed to give undergraduate students a dynamic educational experience in the marine mammal field while offering valuable career experience. Students are responsible for a number of support tasks with dolphins and sea lions throughout the course of the internship including diet preparation, sanitation, and equipment and facility maintenance. Interns also have the opportunity to assist the Animal Care and Training staff in husbandry, research, and open ocean training sessions.

Animal Care and Training Internship Dates For 2020

  • Summer 2020 5/4/20 - 8/21/20 and 5/18/20 - 9/4/20 - application deadline March 1st
  • Fall 2020 8/24/20 - 12/11/20 and 9/8/20 - 12/18/20 - application deadline June 1st
Conservation Medicine Internships

Through conservation focused internship opportunities, the NMMF strives to train the next generation of marine mammal scientists and encourage their interest in conservation medicine.

Endangered Killer Whale Health Database Internship

This internship is designed for a veterinary student, or graduate student with medical knowledge, to support with data entry and quality control for the killer whale health database. The intern works under the mentorship and guidance of our San Diego based software programmer and our medical records office specialist who built and tested the database with collaborating institutions. The data population and quality control performed through this internship contributes to the advancement and design of an effective and reliable centralized, relational database and recordkeeping system for wild killer whales, which will ultimately serve to inform conservation measures for endangered killer whales.

Veterinary and Animal Care Internships

Veterinary Externship

For students in their fourth year of veterinary school, the Veterinary Externship provides a comprehensive look at the NMMF and U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program's veterinary care of dolphins and sea lions. NMMF veterinarians, technicians, and fellows provide on-call veterinary care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Mornings are typically used for clinical procedures, veterinary medical technologies support, and medical rounds. Most afternoons are dedicated to sample processing, data entry, research, training, and emerging care needs. Students are given the opportunity to observe and participate in all clinical activities, under the direction of the veterinary staff, as the situation permits. In addition, students are expected to complete a clinical research project in marine mammal medicine and then present the results at the end of their externship.

How To Apply

To apply for any of our internship and externship opportunities, please contact Erika Putman, Director of Education and Outreach:

What do students think?

"This internship gave me the opportunity to see everything that happens in this field of work, and not just the fun stuff but the details of diet prep, training plans, record keeping, and cleaning."
"This internship is a great way to see what it's actually like working with marine mammals. A lot of people don't realize how hard trainers work (both physically and mentally) to train their animals."
"I have done a previous marine mammal internship before, and I feel like I learned soooo much more here with the Navy. I'm very happy with my experience and I feel like I have grown a lot in the past few months in regards to marine mammal care and training."
"This internship has definitely taught me a lot and has showed me that this is exactly what I want as a career. This internship is very well structured and realistic."
"This program is so well-rounded and is connected to so many pioneers in marine science that not only are you getting experience but you can network and meet such a range of people."
"This was the most rewarding experience I have ever had. I feel that I have learned so much about the field in such a short period of time. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat."
"This opportunity has been the best experience of my life and I have learned so much. I have gained not only career knowledge, but friendships and an even deeper passion for the field!"

Learn more about the Animal Care and Training Internship with the Navy Marine Mammal Program, including job duties and how to apply

The Marine Mammal Program (MMP) began in 1959 with a single Navy scientist and one dolphin. Since that time, the program has expanded its study with the development of the Fleet Marine Mammal Systems utilizing dolphins, beluga whales, and sea lions. In addition, the MMP is doing a variety of research projects investigating the hearing abilities in a number of species of marine mammals. Research studying dolphin’s biosonar, and their physiological environmental adaptations are also being conducted. We are currently offering positions to be a part of the marine mammal program through internship opportunities.

This internship is designed to give undergraduate students a dynamic educational experience in the marine mammal field while offering valuable career experience. Students will be responsible for a number of support tasks with dolphins and sea lions throughout the course of the internship. These responsibilities will include diet preparation, sanitation, and equipment and facility maintenance. Interns may also have the opportunity to assist the marine mammal training staff in husbandry and open ocean training. In addition, they will provide support to the animal care staff in animal physicals, and assist in a number of different marine mammal research projects. Lectures and field trips will also be conducted throughout the term to enhance the learning experience.

The internship is offered on a competitive basis to sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the Marine Science, Biology, Zoology, Psychology, and Veterinary fields. Though the internship is designed for undergraduate students, recent graduates are also eligible to apply. All interns must arrange to receive college credit to be considered for the internship. The internship is a 40 hours per week, 16-week commitment. Interested students are encouraged to send a resume, cover letter, an unofficial or official copy of their transcripts, proof of medical insurance, and proof of US citizenship. In addition, a minimum of three letters of recommendation from professors or employers is necessary to complete the application. The application deadline for spring is October 1 st , summer is March 1 st , and Fall is June 1 st .

If you would like to learn more about the MMP, I encourage you to visit our website. Please forward all application materials to the email address or physical address listed below. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Erika Putman at (619) 767-4100 or email at

Dr. Mark Xitco
Attn: Coordinator of Volunteer Opportunities
NIWC, Code 567
53560 Hull Street
San Diego, CA 92152

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