Sea Turtle Research Batten Fellowship

Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program Virginia Beach, Virginia
Deadline Jan 30, 2019
Job Type Student / postdoc

The Virginia Aquarium’s Research & Conservation Division is now accepting applications for a Sea Turtle Research Batten Fellow. The application deadline is January 30, 2019. Fellows are expected to begin in May, but the start date is flexible. 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 a compensation to help offset personal and incidental expenses over the course of the appointment period.

Position Overview

Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program (VAQS) Research Fellows promote the conservation of marine animal species through research, rescue, rehabilitation, and education. Fellows will be trained in many aspects of aspects of stranding response as well as participate in nest monitoring, tagging, hooked turtle mitigation and other on-going projects. Stranding and field work are unpredictable, therefore experiences will vary by Fellowship session. VAQS staff will provide as many learning opportunities as possible during each session.


  • Assist with research and monitoring projects including nest monitoring, capture, tagging, sampling, volunteer training and scheduling, sample management, and field data collection for wild and incidentally captured sea turtles.
  • Assist with response to hooked sea turtles reported under the Virginia Pier Partner Program.
  • Assist with data entry and analysis.
  • Assist with sample inventory, preparation, and dissemination.
  • 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, photographing, carcass removal, 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 staff with daily administrative tasks, including answering hotline calls, data entry, completing response paperwork, and when trained acting as stranding and live animal lead (under the supervision of a staff member), as well as acting as after-hours hotline point of contact.
  • 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 50lbs and walk long distances (>5 mi/8 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.
  • Have basic math and computer skills using MS office software and data entry.

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 advanced math and computer skills such as: using relational databases, biological statistics, environmental modeling, and/or GIS.
  • Be comfortable around dead and decomposing animals.
  • Be comfortable driving large pick-up trucks and vans. Willing to learn how to drive response vehicles, if accepted (required).
  • Be comfortable trailering, launching and operating small outboard vessels.

Position Requirements

  • Attend VAQS orientation and City of Virginia Beach Defensive Driving.
  • Possess a valid U.S. driver’s license.
  • Be available to perform support activities (24-7) as needed during the period of appointment.

Fellowship Learning Objectives

  • Complete an individual research project with a final deliverable (research paper and oral presentation).
  • Develop fundamental hands-on stranding response, necropsy, fieldwork and/or rehabilitation skills.
  • Understand the nature and importance of consistent and objective data collection.
  • Gain exposure to long-term monitoring projects, observational research and management-related field projects involving sea turtles.
  • Enter and analyze stranding/research data using Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, ArcGIS and/or R.

Fellow Schedule

Fellow is expected to be available 4-5 days per week, 8am-4:30pm. Weekend and holiday coverage is expected.

Minimum Commitment Required

400 hour

Fellow Supervisor/Mentor

VAQS Volunteer Manager and project supervisor

Work Location

Virginia Aquarium’s Marine Animal Care Center


Application Requirements

A complete application includes:

  • Cover letter. There is some flexibility with Fellowship start/end dates; please include any known schedule conflicts in your cover letter. Please indicate the specific Batten Fellowship opportunity to which you are applying.
  • 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.

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, please visit our website: 

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.
Uploaded by Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program
Uploaded by Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program