Flexibility: High

Social Engagement: High

What’s What: Do you love the sea and its treasures? Are you concerned about marine life, its ecosystem and the future of our waterways? Volunteers like you are needed at marine sanctuaries nationwide. 

Amava Take: The ocean affects us all, whether we live on the coast or in the mountains. Sanctuary waters provide a secure habitat for endangered species and also protect shipwrecks and historic artifacts. Volunteer under the sea or on land for a marine sanctuary and you’ll help the creatures who call the ocean home. You’ll also benefit scientists and students who use these sanctuaries for research. There are 14 sanctuaries across the U.S. and volunteers are a big part of helping NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries achieve its mission. Imagine counting whales, collecting field observations or monitoring wildlife. 

From the Front Lines: 

What kinds of candidates are you looking for to fill these positions? 

Anyone who is interested in and passionate about marine conservation. Whether once a week or once a year, there are meaningful opportunities for anyone with a desire to help, even if you’re landlocked.

Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?

Find a mentor early on who can show you everything you need to know.

What’s a typical daily schedule like?

It depends on what you’re doing. Each location has a different scope of volunteer activities. 

From the Trenches:  

What’s the most satisfying part of the job/experience?

Being near the water with scientists is an eye opening experience. There is so much going on and even more we don’t know. 

How would you describe the hard parts?

Seeing the pollution and the damage it causes up close and personal. 

What surprised you the most about the experience?

Everything we do has an impact on the ocean, yet we’ve only explored about 5% of it.  

Special Requirements: Some positions and projects require certain certifications or education but there are volunteer opportunities for everyone. If you’re not near a coast, and not planning a visit, there are outreach opportunities and administrative tasks that can be done from anywhere. 

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Finding a Position: The headquarters for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is in Silver Spring, Maryland, but there are also opportunities at the sanctuaries in Michigan, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas/Louisiana border, Florida Keys, Washington, American Samoa, four in California, and two in Hawaii. Information for each sanctuary is listed on the volunteer page. This section of the Marine Sanctuaries website outlines the various types of volunteer gigs and what each entails. More information can also be found on the website for the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Additionally, GoEco offers award-winning marine conservation programs worldwide.