May 2020 update.  The covid-19 pandemic has made it very difficult for everyone to develop and carry out internships in all fields, and marine studies at COA is no different.  In fact, our strong hands-on and community-based focus makes it particularly difficult for us.  This summer a few students are doing research, I am doing research on clam population biology and state fisheries policy with two students, and hope to have a lot of students continuing the work in the fall, but we will do what we can do. In the meantime, we are trying to be creative in the work that we can do, and in particular our Mapping Ocean Stories project has been quite active. – Chris Petersen

To give you a flavor of what we do, I’ve attached below our annual flyer on available summer opportunities that we produced in the fall, with the caveat that I think many of them were cancelled so that we could maintain public health and safety.
As a note: although some of these opportunities are open to non-COA students, most of them are restricted to current COA students.  For more information on any particular opportunity, there is contact information at the end of each entry.

Student Opportunities COA science faculty 2019-20

In a typical summer, these are some of the opportunities that exist:

Student opportunities on Mount Desert Rock (MDR)


Gray and Harbor seals relax during low tide on Mount Desert Rock.

Mount Desert Rock, or “The Rock,” is a fantastic internship opportunity.  Students who go out to the Rock will spend 100% of their time out there, doing whatever they desire.  Students work on whale behavior, seal behavior, bird behavior, oceanography, plankton, bathymetry, art, and you could even go out their simply for some peace and write a novel.
This research assistant position is unpaid, but this means that anyone can apply.  Further, the Katona Chair, along with grants, pay for all of your expenses.  Further, you can apply to grants, such as the Maine Space Grant, to help pay for any research costs.  Students can use this opportunity for their senior projects, internship requirement, or simply just for the experience.  If you are interested in going out to the rock over the summer, contact Sean Todd

Allied Whale

Allied Whale typically seeks 4 interns/research assistants every summer field season.   (Students can also work/volunteer for Allied Whale throughout the school year.)

The internship supports field projects in behavioral ecology and distributions of humpback and fin whales, the maintenance of the ongoing North Atlantic humpback and fin whale photo identification catalogs, a standing response team, and work with the local whale watch company.  Allied Whale also maintains the research station on Mount Desert Rock, and interns will spend approximately half of their time on the remote island.

Interns will take shifts as a research assistant and deckhand for the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. and being on call for boat-based cetacean surveys.  Intern duties include searching for whale, photo identification of whales, data collection and entry, assisting the whale watch naturalist in promoting education and conservation programs, and assisting passengers on the whale watch.  While on Mount Desert Rock, intern responsibilities include conducting cetacean surveys along transect lines, data entry, photo identification, land based whale monitoring from the lighthouse tower, plankton tows, seal contains, and general maintenance of the station.

Deadline of application is typically February 1st.  Application typically includes a cover letter detailing your reasons for applying, a resume, and two letters of recommendation.

Great Duck Island

Every year COA faculty member John Anderson typically has 3-5 undergraduates doing a variety of projects centered around seabird ecology on COA’s Alice Eno Research Station on Great Duck Island.  For more information contact John.

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