Sea Turtle and Marine Mammal Stranding Response Batten Fellowship

Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program
Virginia Beach
Job Category
Fellowships & Scholarships
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
The Virginia Aquarium’s Research & Conservation Division is now accepting applications for Sea Turtle and Marine Mammal Stranding Response Batten Fellowships. The application deadline is February 15th, 2023. Fellows are expected to work 400 hours over approximately three months, starting in either May or June. Fellowships will be fulfilled in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines and positions are subject to change based on the most current recommendations. Housing is not provided by the Virginia Aquarium. Fellows are fully responsible for fulfilling all requirements of their home institutions to receive academic credit. This competitive position includes $15/hour compensation to help offset personal and incidental expenses over the course of the appointment period. Position Overview Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program (VAQS) Fellows promote the conservation of marine animal species through research, response, rehabilitation, and education. Fellows will be trained in all aspects of stranding response. Stranding work is unpredictable, therefore experiences will vary by fellowship session. VAQS staff will provide as many learning opportunities as possible during each session. Duties - Respond to live and dead marine mammals and sea turtles in the field. - Participate in all aspects of post-mortem examinations: cutting and sampling, data collection & entry, photographing, report writing, carcass recovery, and cleaning. - Perform daily husbandry tasks, including food preparation, feeding, and cleaning the rehab area, kitchen and associated supplies and equipment. - Assist staff with new patients, including: daily treatments, restraining animals for exams, collecting vital rates (heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature) and morphometrics, taking photographs, administering medications, and performing wound care. - Assist with research projects and field activities involving sea turtles and marine mammals. - Ensure response preparedness by stocking response bags, fueling vehicles, and cleaning/restocking gear and supplies. - Assist with releases of rehabilitation patients, public outreach events, and volunteer/cooperator training. - Assist staff with daily administrative tasks, including answering hotline calls, data entry, and completing response paperwork. - Complete other projects and tasks as assigned by VAQS staff.
Required Qualifications - Must be at least 18 years old. - Must be a rising junior, recent graduate, or currently pursuing a post-graduate degree in a science-based (or veterinary) program. - Must be self-motivated, articulate, mature, reliable, and responsible. Should work well independently as well as with a team. - Must be physically fit with the ability to lift 50 lbs and walk long distances (>3 mi/5 km) on the beach in adverse conditions such as extreme heat and cold, humidity, rain, and/or wind. - Be able to swim and be comfortable in and around open water and boats. - Be willing to learn how to drive response vehicles, if accepted (required). Preferred Qualifications - Demonstrate interest in a career in marine or veterinary science. - Have some experience in stranding response, field research, and/or wild/exotic animal care. - Have basic math and computer skills using MS spreadsheets, relational databases, and data entry (advanced programs such as SQL, GIS, R, etc. preferred). - Be comfortable around dead and decomposing animals. - Be comfortable driving large pick-up trucks and vans. Position Requirements - Attend VAQS orientation and City of Virginia Beach Defensive Driving upon starting. - Possess a valid U.S. driver’s license. - Pass a City of Virginia Beach background check. - Be available to perform support activities (24-7) as needed during the period of appointment. Fellowship Learning Objectives Develop fundamental hands-on stranding response and rehabilitation skills: - Perform basic post-mortem examinations on sea turtle and marine mammals. - Perform basic health assessments of rehabilitation patients, including collecting vital rates, treating wounds, administering medications, and processing blood samples. - Be able to complete Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network (STSSN) and Marine Mammal Stranding Level A forms. - Enter stranding data in Microsoft Access. - Complete an individual project with a final deliverable (paper/report and/or oral presentation). Fellow Schedule Fellow is expected to be available 4-5 days per week, either 8am-4:30pm or 7am-5:30pm. Weekend and holiday coverage is expected. Maximum Commitment Required 800 hours (only if available for a longer time frame) Fellow Supervisor/Mentor VAQS Volunteer Manager and project supervisor Work Location Virginia Aquarium’s Darden Marine Animal Conservation Center Application Requirements A complete Stranding Response Fellowship application must include the following components: - Cover letter. There is some flexibility with Fellowship start/end dates; please include any known schedule conflicts in your cover letter. - Fellowship expectations letter. This should include what you expect to do and get from your experience at VAQS. - Resume - College transcript(s) - Two letters of recommendation; one must be an academic reference. Letters can be sent separately to If applying via email, please send application to and send a copy of the application to Incomplete applications will not be considered. If applying via mail, please send application to: Volunteer Services Office – Batten Fellows Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center 717 General Booth Boulevard Virginia Beach, VA 23451 For more information about the application process, please visit:
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