IGS Internships

Environmental Conservation

Hawaiian Reef Ecology

Project Introduction

Contribute in a meaningful fashion to the research and public education of Hawaii's threatened marine environments.

Location - East Oahu, Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

Our marine education programs take place in two locations.East Oahu, and Kona (Big Island). Both are featured for their natural beauty and opportunity to train and work on the oceanfront.

Our Oahu site is located about twenty-five minutes from Waikiki. Here you will have the best of both worlds in access to crystal blue waters and a world class education center and all the fun and sun of Waikiki. The site sits amidst the remnants of a volcanic crater that sculpted one of the most beautiful bays in all Hawaii. Our Kona, Big Island location is four miles from downtown Kailua and home to some of the best accessible reefs on the Big Island.

Job Description

Reef Educator: Interns will be trained in the basic tenants of marine conservation and ecology by a recognized and esteemed organization with a long history of conservation efforts in the islands. Once you have received your training, you will be dispatched to the shorelines of Hawaii's most popular reef environments.

Researcher: While your primary focus will be on education, there may also be the opportunity to contribute to on-going research projects or to create your own marine-based study depending on where you are assigned. Research can range from fish behavior to more anthropological studies of the demographics of visitors enjoying the reef. You will work one on one with a supervisor to determine a project that most closely matches your interests


Reef Conservation: Your duties will include educating snorkelers and shore visitors about proper reef etiquette. Specifically, you will instruct tourists on the proper way to enjoy the reef without harming a fragile marine ecosystem. Interns will be provided with fish identification charts and other educational material. Working in teams of two to three you will have the opportunity to speak directly with marine visitors one on one or at times in larger groups to impart the do's and don’ts of swimming, snorkeling and playing in amidst a fragile ecosystem.

Sea Turtle Education: In addition to imparting conservation tips, interns will take an active role in educating visitors about the flora and fauna they may encounter in the area. This particular beach setting is a well known safe haven for the green sea turtle. You will have a chance to discuss the behavioral patterns of these gentle creatures as well as their nesting habits in the area. The green sea turtle has long been afflicted with a type of tumor whose origin is not fully understood. You will help visitors see beyond the surface to fully appreciate these magnificent wayfarers in their true splendor.

Reef Fish Identification: Hawaii's reef fishes are celebrated worldwide for their high degree of endemism. With several species unique wholly to Hawaiian waters, this is your chance to share with visitors some of the evolutionary principles that make these Pacific waters truly Hawaiian. In addition, you will be able to share some of the mutually beneficial relationships enjoyed by cleaner wrasses and the several species of hosts they glean.

Threats to the marine ecosystem: Coral bleaching is as much a problem in Hawaii as in other Pacific ecosystems. The death and destruction of these fragile environments come from many sources. Agricultural runoff, water temperature changes, boat anchors, and human footsteps are but a few of the dangers that a modern reef faces. Educate visitors on what they can do on both a large and small scale to help these magnificent systems endure for themselves and for future generations.

Availability and Requirements

Positions available year-round.
Minimum Length of Stay: 6 weeks

Additional Requirements

Please submit along with your application a resume or acceptable equivalent, indicating any relevant knowledge or skills. Please also provide a brief essay (one page or less) indicating: the source of your interest in this position, what you hope to contribute to the programs indicated, and what you hope to learn or experience through your internship.